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MARGARET    SANGER 


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Margaret  Sanger 


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MARGARET 
SANGER 


-aJ^5^^^^«5»^-3»^^^-5JMK»^  «S-«K-gfr«6~«C>«3S-«K~««-«$-«g- 


?An  <iAutobiography 


new  york  W-W-NORTON  6f  COMPANY   publishers 


Copyright,  1938,  by 

W.  W.  Norton  &  Company,  Inc. 

70  Fifth  Avenue,  New  York 

First  Edition 


PRINTED    IN   THE    UNITED   STATES   OF   AMERICA 
FOR   THE    PUBLISHERS    BY   THE  VAIL-BALLOU    PRESS 


TO    ALL    THE    PIONEERS 
OF    NEW    AND    BETTER    WORLDS    TO    COME 


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

My  thanks  are  due  especially  to  Rackham  Holt  for  her  discerning  aid 
in  organizing  material  and  for  her  untiring  and  inspired  advice  dur- 
ing the  preparation  of  this  book;  as  well  as  to  Walter  S.  Hayward 
whose  able  assistance  has  helped  to  make  the  task  lighter. 

In  the  course  of  preparing  this  narrative  many  books  have  been 
consulted.  I  trust  their  authors  zvill  agree  with  me  that  a  bibliography 
in  a  personal  history  is  cumbersome  and  accept  a  general  but  none  the 
less  grateful  acknowledgment. 

My  admiration  has  always  gone  out  to  the  person  who  can  put  him- 
self in  print  and  set  down  for  historical  purposes  an  exact  record  of 
his  honest  feelings  and  thoughts,  even  though  they  may  seem  to  re- 
flect upon  many  of  his  friends  and  helpers.  I  have  not  in  this  story 
hurt  any  one  by  intent.  Because  its  thread  has,  of  necessity,  followed 
dramatic  highlights,  many  people  who  played  prominent  parts  have 
not  been  mentioned.  These  I  have  not  forgotten,  nor  those  numerous 
others  who  made  smaller  offerings.  Some  have  pioneered  in  their 
special  fields  and  localities;  seme  have  given  generously  and  unfail- 
ingly of  their  financial  help;  some  have  volunteered  in  full  measure 
their  time  and  efforts  as  officers  and  Committee  members;  some  have 
fought  and  labored  by  my  side  throughout  the  years;  some  have 
stepped  in  for  only  a  brief  but  significant  role.  Although  on  the  out- 
skirts of  the  army,  it  is  to  these  last  as  well  as  to  those  in  the  vanguard 
that  the  advance  has  been  made.  And  particularly  do  I  zuish  to  thank 
those  co-workers  and  members  of  the  various  staffs  whose  contribu- 
tions can  in  no  way  be  measured  by  tlieir  duties,  and  whose  indefati- 
gable, loyal  devotion  Jias  been  a  bulwark  of  strength  to  me  at  all  times. 

5 


6  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

It  has  been  impossible  to  carry  out  my  sincere  desire  to  give  per- 
sonal and  individual  recognition  and  expression  of  gratitude  to  all. 
Neither  a  history  of  the  birth  control  movement  nor  the  part  I  have 
taken  in  it  could  be  complete,  hozvever,  did  I  not  pay  tribute  to  the 
integrity,  valiance,  courage,  and  clarity  of  vision  of  the  men  and 
women  who,  year  after  year,  maintained  their  principles,  and  never 
swerved  from  them  in  a  cause  which  belongs  to  all  of  us. 


TABLE  OF  CONTENTS 

I.  FROM  WHICH  I  SPRING  1 1 

II.  .    BLIND  GERMS  OF  DAYS  TO  BE  2\ 

IJI.  BOOKS  ARE  THE  COMPASSES  33 

IV.  DARKNESS  THERE  AND  NOTHING  MORE  46 

V.  CORALS  TO  CUT  LIFE  UPON  58 

VI.  FANATICS  OF  THEIR  PURE  IDEALS  68 

VII.  THE  TURBID  EBB  AND  FLOW  OF  MISERY  86 

VIII.  I  HAVE  PROMISES  TO  KEEP  93 

IX.  THE  WOMAN  REBEL  I06 

X.  WE  SPEAK  THE  SAME  GOOD  TONGUE  121 

XI.  HAVELOCK  ELLIS  1 33 

XII.  STORK  OVER  HOLLAND  1 42 

XIII.  THE  PEASANTS  ARE  KINGS  153 

XIV.  O,  TO  BE  IN  ENGLAND  1 69 
XV.  HIGH  HANGS  THE  GAUNTLET  179 

XVI.  HEAR  ME  FOR  MY  CAUSE  1 92 

XVII.  FAITH  I  HAVE  BEEN  A  TRUANT  IN  THE  LAW  2IO 

XVIII.  LEAN  HUNGER  AND  GREEN  THIRST  224 

XIX.  THIS  PRISON  WHERE  I  LIVE  238 

XX.  A  STOUT  HEART  TO  A  STEEP  HILL  25 1 

XXI.  THUS  TO  REVISIT  268 

XXII.  DO  YE  HEAR  THE  CHILDREN  WEEPING?  280 

XXIII.  IN  TIME  WE  CAN  ONLY  BEGIN  292 

7 


8  table  of  contexts 

xxiv.  laws  were  like  cobwebs  306 

xxv.  alien"  stars  arise  316 

xxvi.  the  east  is  blossoming  327 

xxvii.  ancients  of  the  earth  337 

xxviii.  the  world  is  much  the  same  everywhere  349 

xxix.  while  the  doctors  consult  358 

xxx.  now  is  the  time  for  converse  369 

xxxi.  great  heights  are  hazardous  376 

xxxii.  change  is  hopefully  begun  392 

xxxiii.  old  father  antic,  the  law  398 

xxxiv.  senators,  be  not  affrighted  413 

xxxv.  a  past  which  is  goxn'e  forever  43 1 

xxxvi.  faith  is  a  fine  invention  447 

xxxvit.  who  can  take  a  dream  for  truth?  461 

xxxviii.  depth  but  not  tumult  478 

xxxix.  slow  grows  the  splendid  pattern  493 

index  497 


MARGARET    SANGER 


Chapter  One 


FROM  WHICH  I  SPRING 


"'Where  shall  I  begin,  please  your  Majesty?'  he  asked.  'Begin 
at  the  beginning,'  the  King  said,  very  gravely,  'and  go  on  till  you 
come  to  the  end:  then  stop.'" 

LEWIS  CARROLL 


THE  streets  of  Corning,  New  York,  where  I  was  born,  climb 
.right  up  from  the  Chemung  River,  which  cuts  the  town  in 
two ;  the  people  who  live  there  have  floppy  knees  from  going  up  and 
down.  When  I  was  a  little  girl  the  oaks  and  the  pines  met  the  stone 
walks  at  the  top  of  the  hill,  and  there  in  the  woods  my  father  built 
his  house,  hoping  mother's  "congestion  of  the  lungs"  would  be 
helped  if  she  could  breathe  the  pure,  balsam-laden  air. 

My  mother,  Anne  Purcell,  always  had  a  cough,  and  when  she 
braced  herself  against  the  wall  the  conversation,  which  was  forever 
echoing  from  room  to  room,  had  to  stop  until  she  recovered.  She  was 
slender  and  straight  as  an  arrow,  with  head  well  set  on  sloping  shoul- 
ders, black,  wavy  hair,  skin  white  and  spotless,  and  with  wide-apart 
eyes,  gray-green,  flecked  with  amber.  Her  family  had  been  Irish  as 
far  back  as  she  could  trace;  the  strain  of  the  Norman  conquerors  had 
run  true  throughout  the  generations,  and  may  have  accounted  for  her 
unfaltering  courage. 

Mother's  sensitivity  to  beauty  found  some  of  its  expression  in 
flowers.  We  had  no  money  with  which  to  buy  them,  and  she  had  no 
time  to  grow  them,  but  the  woods  and  fields  were  our  garden.  I  can 
never  remember  sitting  at  a  table  not  brightened  with,  blossoms ;  from 
the  first  spring  arbutus  io  the  last  goldenrod  of  autumn  we  had  an 
abundance. 

Although  this  was  the  Victorian  Age,  our  home  was  almost  free 

ii 


12  MARGARET    SANGER 

from  Victorianism.  Father  himself  had  made  our  furniture.  He  had 
even  cut  and  polished  the  slab  of  the  big  "marble-topped  table,"  as  it 
was  always  called.  Only  in  the  spare  room  stood  a  piece  bought  at 
a  store — a  varnished  washstand.  The  things  you  made  yourself  were 
not  considered  quite  good  enough  for  guests.  Sometimes  father's 
visitors  were  doctors,  teachers,  or  perhaps  the  village  priest,  but 
mostly  they  were  the  artisans  of  the  community — cabinet  makers, 
masons,  carpenters  who  admired  his  ideas  as  well  as  shared  his  pas- 
sion for  hunting.  In  between  tramping  the  woods  and  talking  they 
had  helped  to  frame  and  roof  the  house,  working  after  hours  to  do 
this. 

Father,  Michael  Hennessy  Higgins,  born  in  Ireland,  was  a  non- 
conformist through  and  through.  All  other  men  had  beards  or  mus- 
taches— not  lie.  His  bright  red  mane,  worn  much  too  long  accord- 
ing to  the  family,  swept  back  from  his  massive  brow ;  he  would  not 
clip  it  short  as  most  fathers  did.  Actually  it  suited  his  finely-modeled 
head.  He  was  nearly  six  feet  tall  and  hard-muscled;  his  keen  blue 
eyes  were  set  off  by  pinkish,  freckled  skin.  Homily  and  humor  rip- 
pled unceasingly  from  his  generous  mouth  in  a  brogue  which  he 
never  lost.  The  jokes  with  which  he  punctuated  every  story  were 
picked  up,  retold,  and  scattered  about.  When  I  was  little  they  were 
beyond  me,  but  I  could  hear  my  elders  laughing. 

The  scar  on  father's  forehead  was  his  badge  of  war  service.  When 
Lincoln  had  called  for  volunteers  against  the  rebellious  South,  he 
had  taken  his  only  possessions,  a  gold  watch  inherited  from  his 
grandfather  and  his  own  father's  legacy  of  three  hundred  dollars, 
and  had  run  away  from  his  home  in  Canada  to  enlist.  But  he  had 
been  told  he  was  not  old  enough,  and  was  obliged  to  wait  impa- 
tiently a  year  and  a  half  until,  on  his  fifteenth  birthday,  he  had  joined 
the  Twelfth  New  York  Volunteer  Cavalry  as  a  drummer  boy. 

One  of  father's  adventures  had  been  the  capture  of  a  Confederate 
captain  on  a  fine  mule,  the  latter  being  counted  the  more  valuable 
acquisition  to  the  regiment.  We  were  brought  up  in  the  tradition 
that  he  had  been  one  of  three  men  selected  by  Sherman  for  brav- 
ery. That  made  us  very  proud  of  him.  Better  not  start  anything  with 
father;  he  could  beat  anybody!  But  he  himself  had  been  appalled  by 
the  brutalities  of  war;  never  thereafter  was  he  interested  in  fighting, 


FROM    WHICH    I   SPRING  1 3 

unless  perhaps  his  Irish  sportsmanship  cropped  out  when  two  well- 
matched  dogs  were  set  against  each  other. 

Immediately  upon  leaving  the  Army  father  had  studied  anatomy, 
medicine,  and  phrenology,  but  these  had  been  merely  for  perfecting 
his  skill  in  modeling.  He  made  his  living  by  chiseling  angels  and 
saints  out  of  huge  blocks  of  white  marble  or  gray  granite  for  tomb- 
stones in  cemeteries/He  was  a  philosopher.,  a  rebel,  and  an  artist, 
none  of  which  was  calculated  to  produce  wealth.jOur  existence  was 
like  that  ofy  any  artist's  family — chickens  today  and  feathers  to- 
morrow. '    i 

"Christmases  were  on  the  poverty  line.  If  any  of  us  needed  a  new 
winter  overcoat  or  pair  of  overshoes,  these  constituted  our  presents. 
I  was  the  youngest  of  six,  but  after  me  others  kept  coming  until  we 
were  eleven.  Our  dolls  were  babies — living,  wriggling  bodies  to  bathe 
and  dress  instead  of  lifeless  faces  that  never  cried  or  slept.  A  pine 
beside  the  door  was  our  Christmas  tree.  Father  liked  us  to  use  natu- 
ral things  and  we  had  to  rely  upon  ingenuity  rather  than  the  village 
stores,  so  we  decorated  it  with  white  popcorn  and  red  cranberries 
which  we  strung  ourselves.  Our  most  valuable  gift  was  that  of  im- 
agination. 

We  had  little  time  for  recreation.  School  was  five  miles  away  and 
we  had  to  walk  back  and  forth  twice  a  day  as  well  as  perform  house- 
hold duties.  The  boys  milked  the  cow,  tended  the  chickens,  and  took 
care  of  Tom,  the  old  white  horse  which  pulled  our  sleigh  up  and 
down  the  hill.  The  girls  helped  put  the  younger  children  to  bed, 
molded  clothes,  set  the  table,  cleaned  the  vegetables,  and  washed  the 
dishes.  We  accepted  all  this  with  no  sense  of  deprivation  or  aggrieve- 
merit,  being,  if  anything,  proud  of  sharing  responsibility. 

And  we  made  the  most  of  our  vacations.  There  were  so  many  of 
us  that  we  did  not  have  to  depend  upon  outsiders,  and  Saturday  after- 
noons used  to  put  on  plays  by  ourselves  in  the  barn.  Ordinarily  we 
were  shy  about  displaying  emotions;  we  looked  upon  tears  and  temper 
in  other  homes  with  shocked  amazement  as  signs  of  ill-breeding. 
Play-acting,  however,  was  something  else  again.  Here  we  could 
find  outlet  for  histrionic  talent  and  win  admiration  instead  of  lifted 
eyebrows.  I  rather  fancied  myself  as  an  actress,  and  often  mimicked 
some  of  the  local  characters,  to  the  apparent  pleasure  of  my  limited 


14  MARGARET    SANGER 

audience  of  family  and  neighbors.  It  was  not  long  before  I  slipped 
into  declaiming.  The  Lady  of  Lyons  was  one  of  my  specialties : 

This  is  thy  palace,  where  the  perfumed  light 
Steals  through  the  mist  of  alabaster  lamps, 
And  every  air  is  heavy  with  the  sighs 
Of  orange  groves,  and  music  from  the  sweet  lutes 
And  murmurs  of  low  fountains,  that  gush  forth 
F  the  midst  of  roses ! 

All  outdoors  was  our  playground,  but  I  was  not  conscious  at  the 
time  of  my  love  for  the  country.  Things  in  childhood  change  per- 
spective. What  was  taken  for  granted  then  assumes  great  significance 
in  later  life.  I  knew  how  the  oak  tree  grew  and  where  the  white  and 
yellow  violets  could  be  found,  and  with  a  slight  feeling  of  superiority 
I  showed  and  expounded  these  mysteries  to  town  children.  Not  until 
pavements  were  my  paths  did  I  realize  how  much  a  part  of  me  the 
country  was,  and  how  I  missed  it. 

We  were  all,  brothers  and  sisters  alike,  healthy  and  strong,  vigor- 
ous and  active ;  our  appetites  were  curtailed  only  through  necessity. 
We  played  the  same  games  together  and  shared  the  same  sports — 
baseball,  skating,  swimming,  hunting.  Nevertheless,  except  that  we 
all  had  red  hair,  shading  from  carrot  to  bronze,  we  were  sharply 
distinct  physically.  The  girls  were  small  and  feminine,  the  boys 
husky  ?:id  brawny.  When  I  went  out  into  the  world  and  observed 
men,  otherwise  admirable,  who  could  not  pound  a  nail  or  use  a  saw, 
pick,  shovel,  or  ax,  I  was  dumfounded.  I  had  always  taken  for  granted 
that  any  man  could  make  things  with  his  hands. 

I  expected  this  even  of  women.  My  oldest  sister,  Mary,  possessed, 
more  than  the  rest  of  us,  an  innate  charm  and  gentleness.  She  could 
do  anything  along  domestic  lines — embroidery,  dress  making,  tailor- 
ing, cooking ;  she  could  concoct  the  most  delicious  and  unusual  foods, 
and  mix  delicate  pastries.  But  she  was  also  an  expert  at  upholster- 
ing, carpentry,  painting,  roofing  with  shingles  or  with  thatch.  When 
Mary  was  in  the  house,  we  never  had  to  send  for  a  plumber.  She  rode 
gracefully  and  handled  the  reins  from  the  carriage  seat  with  equal 
dexterity;  she  could  milk  a  cow  and  deliver  a  baby;  neighbors  called 
her  to  tend  their  sick  cattle,  or,  when  death  came,  to  lay  out  the  body; 


FROM    WHICH    I   SPRING  1 5 

she  tutored  in  mathematics  and  Latin,  and  was  well-read  in  the 
classics,  yet  she  liked  most  the  theater,  and  was  a  dramatic  critic 
whose  judgment  was  often  sought.  In  all  that  she  did  her  sweetness 
and  dearness  were  apparent,  though  she  performed  her  many  kind- 
nesses in  secret.  She  left  the  home  roof  while  I  was  still  a  child,  but 
she  never  failed  to  send  Christmas  boxes  in  which  every  member  of 
the  family  shared,  each  gift  beautifully  wrapped  and  decorated  with 
ribbons  and  cards. 

My  brothers  were  ardent  sportsmen,  although  they  might  not  have 
been  outstanding  scholars.  They  could  use  their  fists  and  were  as  good 
shots  as  their  father.  For  that  matter,  we  all  knew  how  to  shoot ;  any 
normal  person  could  manage  a  gun.  Father  was  a  great  hunter.  Our 
best  times  were  when  friends  of  his  came  to  spend  the  night,  talking- 
late,  starting  early  the  next  morning  for  the  heavy  woods  which 
were  full  of  foxes,  rabbits,  partridge,  quail,  and  pheasant. 

Someone  was  always  cleaning  and  oiling  a  gun  in  the  kitchen  or 
carrying  food  to  the  kennels.  The  boys  were  devoted  to  their  fox 
and  rabbit  hounds,  but  father  lavished  his  affection  on  bird  dogs. 
Our  favorite  came  to  us  unsought,  unbought,  and  I  had  a  prideful 
part  in  his  joining  the  family.  One  afternoon  I  was  sitting  alone  by 
the  nameless  brook  which  ran  by  our  house,  clear  and  cool,  deep 
enough  in  some  places  to  take  little  swims  on  hot  summer  days.  I 
was  engaged  in  pinning  together  with  thorns  a  wreath  of  leaves  to 
adorn  my  head  when  a  large,  white  dog  ambled  up,  sniffed,  wagged 
his  tail,  and  seemed  to  want  to  belong.  This  was  no  ordinary  cur, 
but  a  well-bred  English  setter  which  had  evidently  been  lost.  How 
father  would  love  him ! 

Even  though  the  dog  had  no  collar,  I  was  slightly  uneasy  as  to 
my  right  of  ownership.  One  conspicuous  brown-red  spot  on  the  back 
of  his  neck  simplified  my  problem.  Unobtrusively  I  slipped  him  into 
the  barn,  tied  him  up,  selected  a  brush,  dipped  it  in  one  of  the  cans 
of  paint  always  on  hand,  and  multiplied  the  one  spot  by  ten.  For  a 
day,  waiting  for  them  to  dry,  I  fed  him  well  with  food  filched  from 
the  rations  of  the  other  kennel  occupants,  then  led  him  forth,  his 
hairy  dots  stiffened  with  paint,  and  offered  him  to  father  as  a  special 
present. 

Accepting  the  gift  in  the  spirit  in  which  it  was  intended,  father 


1 6  MARGARET    SANGER 

admired  the  dog's  points,  and,  with  an  unmistakable  twinkle,  lent 
himself  to  a  deception  which,  of  course,  could  deceive  nobody.  When 
Saturday  night  came,  the  neighborhood  looked  the  animal  over ;  none 
knew  him  so  we  named  him  Toss  and  admitted  him  to  the  house. 
Later  he  bred  with  an  Irish  setter  of  no  importance,  and  one  of  the 
resultant  puppies,  Beauty,  shared  his  privileges. 

Toss,  as  well  as  everybody  else,  subscribed  to  the  idea  that  the 
"artist"  in  father  must  be  catered  to.  With  the  first  sound  of  his 
clearing  his  throat  in  the  morning  Toss  picked  up  the  shoes  which 
had  been  left  out  to  be  cleaned,  and  carried  them  one  at  a  time  to  the 
bedroom  door,  then  stood  wagging  his  tail,  waiting  to  be  patted.  Fa- 
ther's shoes  were  always  polished,  his  trousers  always  creased.  Every 
day,  even  when  going  to  work,  he  put  on  spotless  white  shirts  with 
starched  collars  and  attachable  cuffs ;  these  were  something  of  a  lux- 
ury, because  they  had  to  be  laundered  at  home,  but  they  got  done 
somehow. 

Father  took  little  or  no  responsibility  for  the  minute  details  of  the 
daily  tasks.  I  can  see  him  when  he  had  nothing  on  hand,  laughing 
and  joking  or  reading  poetry.  Mother,  however,  was  everlastingly 
busy  sewing,  cooking,  doing  this  and  that.  For  so  ardent  and  coura- 
geous a  woman  he  must  have  been  trying,  and  I  still  wonder  at  her 
patience.  She  loved  her  children  deeply,  but  no  one  ever  doubted  that 
she  idolized  her  husband,  and  through  the  years  of  her  wedded  life 
to  her  early  death  never  wavered  in  her  constancy.  Father's  devo- 
tion to  mother,  though  equally  profound,  never  evidenced  itself  in 
practical  ways. 

The  relation  existing  between  our  parents  was  unusual  for  its  day ; 
they  had  the  idea  of  comradeship  and  not  merely  loved  but  liked  and 
respected  each  other.  There  was  no  quarreling  or  bickering ;  none  of 
us  had  to  take  sides,  saying,  "Father  is  right,"  or,  "Mother  is  right." 
We  knew  that  if  we  pleased  one  we  pleased  the  other,  and  such  an 
atmosphere  leaves  its  mark;  we  felt  secure  from  emotional  uncer- 
tainty, and  were  ourselves  guided  towards  certainty  in  our  future. 
We  were  all  friends  together,  though  not  in  the  modern  sense  of 
familiarity.  A  little  dignity  and  formality  were  always  maintained 
and  we  were  invariably  addressed  by  our  full  names.  The  century  of 
the  child  had  not  yet  been  ushered  in. 


FROM    WHICH    I   SPRING  1 7 

In  those  days  young  people,  unless  invited  to  speak,  were  seen  and 
not  heard/ But  as  soon  as  father  considered  us  old  enough  to  have 
ideas  or  opinions,  we  were  given  full  scope  to  express  them jno  mat- 
ter how  adolescent.  He  hated  the  slavery  of  pattern  and  following  of 
examples  and  believed  in  the  equality  of  the  sexes;  not  only  did  he 
come  out  strongly  for  woman  suffrage  in  the  wake  of  Susan  B. 
Anthony,  but  he  advocated  Mrs.  Bloomer's  bloomers  as  attire  for 
women,  though  his  wife  and  daughters  never  wore  them.  He  fought 
for  free  libraries,  free  education,  free  books  in  the  public  schools, 
and  freedom  of  the  mind  from  dogma  and  cant.  Sitting  comfortably 
with  his  feet  on  the  table  he  used  to  say,  "You  should  give  something 
back  to  your  country  because  you  as  a  child  were  rocked  in  the 
cradle  of  liberty  and  nursed  at  the  breast  of  the  goddess  of  truth." 
Father  always  talked  like  that. 

Although  the  first  Socialist  in  the  community,  father  also  took 
single  tax  in  his  stride  and  became  the  champion  and  friend  of  Henry 
George.  Progress  and  Poverty  was  one  of  the  latest  additions  to  our 
meager  bookshelf.  He  laughed  and  rejoiced  when  he  came  upon  what 
to  him  were  meaty  sentences,  reading  them  aloud  to  mother,  who  ac- 
cepted them  as  fine  because  he  said  they  were  fine.  The  rest  of  us  all 
.  had  to  plow  through  the  book  in  order,  as  he  said,  to  "elevate  the 
mind."  To  me  it  still  remains  one  of  the  dullest  ever  written. 

Mother's  loyalty  to  father  was  tested  repeatedly.  Hers  were  the 
responsibilities  of  feeding  and  clothing  and  managing  on  his  in- 
come, combined  with  the  earnings  of  the  oldest  children.  But  fa- 
ther's generosity  took  no  cognizance  of  fact.  Once  he  was  asked  to 
buy  a  dozen  bananas  for  supper.  Instead,  he  purchased  a  stalk  of 
^fifteen  dozen,  and  on  his  way  home  gave  every  single  one  to  school- 
boys and  girls  playing  at  recess.  On  another  occasion  he  showed  up 
with  eight  of  a  neighbor's  children ;  the  ninth  had  been  quarantined 
for  diphtheria.  They  lived  with  us  for  two  months,  crowded  into 
our  beds,  tucked  in  between  us  at  the  table.  Mother  welcomed  them 
as  she  did  his  other  guests.  The  house  was  always  open.  She  was 
not  so  much  social-minded  as  inherently  hospitable.  But  with  her 
frail  body  and  slim  pocketbook,  it  took  courage  to  smile. 

Once  only  that  I  can  remember  did  mother's  patience  give  way. 
That  was  when  father  invaded  her  realm  too  drastically  and  invited 


1 8  MARGARET   SANGER 

Henry  George  to  lecture  at  the  leading  hotel — with  banquet  thrown 
in.  From  the  money  saved  for  the  winter  coal  he  had  taken  enough 
to  entertain  fifty  men  whose  children  were  well-fed  and  well-clothed. 
This  was  the  sole  time  I  ever  knew  my  parents  to  be  at  odds,  though 
even  then  I  heard  no  quarreling  words.  Whatever  happened  between 
them  I  was  not  sure,  but  father  spent  several  days  wooing  back  the 
smile  and  light  to  her  eyes. 

After  Henry  George's  visit  we  had  to  go  without  coal  most  of  the 
winter. 

With  more  pleasure  than  Progress  and  Poverty  I  recall  a  History 
of  the  World,  Lalla  Rookh,  Gulliver's  Travels,  and  Aesop's  Fables. 
The  last-named  touched  a  sympathetic,  philosophical  chord  in  fa- 
ther. "Wolf!  Wolf!"  and  "Sour  Grapes"  were  often  used  to  ex- 
emplify the  trifling  imperfections  to  which  all  human  beings  were 
subject.  For  his  parables  he  drew  also  on  the  Bible,  the  most  enor- 
mous volume  you  ever  laid  eyes  on,  brass  bound,  with  heavy  clasps, 
which  was  the  repository  of  the  family  statistics;  every  birth,  mar- 
riage, death  was  entered  there.  The  handbooks  to  father's  work 
were  the  physiologies,  one  of  which  was  combined  with  a  materia 
medica.  These  were  especially  attractive  to  me,  perhaps  because  they 
were  illustrated  with  vivid  plates,  mostly  red  and  blue,  and  described 
the  fascinating,  unknown  interior  of  the  human  body. 

Neighbors  were  constantly  coming  to  father  for  help.  "What  do  you 
think  is  the  matter  with  this  child?"  Even  without  a  thermometer  he 
could  tell  by  feeling  the  skin  whether  you  were  feverish.  He  pre- 
scribed bismuth  if  the  diagnosis  were  "summer  complaint,"  castor 
oil  if  you  had  eaten  something  which  had  disagreed  with  you,  and 
always  sulphur  and  molasses  in  the  spring  "to  clean  the  blood." 

Father's  cure-all  was  whiskey — "good  whiskey,"  which  "liberated 
the  spirit."  There  was  nothing  from  a  deranged  system  to  a  de- 
pressed mind  that  it  could  not  fix  up.  He  never  drank  alone,  but  no 
masculine  guest  ever  entered  the  door  or  sat  down  to  pass  the  time  of 
day  without  his  producing  the  bottle.  "Have  a  little  shtimulant  ?" 

The  chief  value  of  whiskey  to  father,  however,  was  medicinal.  If 
mumps  turned  into  a  large,  ugly  abscess,  he  put  the  blade  of  his  jack- 
knife  in  the  fire,  lanced  the  gland,  and  cleaned  the  wound  with 
whiskey — good  whiskey.  When  my  face  was  swollen  with  erysipelas, 


FROM    WHICH    I   SPRING  19 

he  painted  it  morning,  afternoon,  and  evening  with  tincture  of  io- 
dine ;  the  doctor  had  so  ordered.  I  was  held  firmly  in  place  each  time 
this  torture  was  inflicted,  and,  as  soon  as  released,  jumped  and  ran 
screaming  and  howling  into  the  cellar,  where  I  plunged  my  burning 
face  into  a  pan  of  cool  buttermilk  until  the  pain  subsided.  This  went 
on  for  several  days,  and  I  was  growing  exhausted  from  the  dreaded 
iodine.  Finally  father  decided  to  abandon  the  treatment  and  substi- 
tute good  whiskey.  Then  I  recovered. 

As  necessary  to  father  as  the  physiologies  was  a  book  by  the  fa- 
mous phrenologist,  Orson  Fuller,  under  whom  he  had  studied.  Fa- 
ther believed  implicitly  that  the  head  was  the  sculptured  expression 
of  the  soul.  Straight  or  slanting  eyes,  a  ridge  between  them,  a 
turned-up  nose,  full  lips,  bulges  in  front  of  or  behind  the  ears — all 
these  traits  had  definite  meaning  for  him.  A  research  worker  had  to 
be-  inquisitive,  a  seeker  with  more  than  normal  curiosity-bumps ; 
a  musician  had  to  have  order  and  time  over  the  eyebrows ;  a  pugilist 
could  not  he  made  but  had  to  have  the  proper  protuberances  around 
the  ears. 

One  of  father's  phrases  was,  "Nature  is  the  perfect  sculptor ;  she 
is  never  wrong.  If  you  seem  to  have  made  a  mistake  in  reading,  it  is 
because  you  have  not  read  correctly."  He  himself  seldom  made  a  mis- 
take, and  his  reputation  spread  far  and  wide.  Young  men  in  confu- 
sion of  mind  and  the  customary  puzzled,  pre-graduation  state  came 
from  Cornell  and  other  colleges  to  consult  him  about  their  careers. 
He  examined  heads  and  faces,  told  them  where  he  thought  their  true 
vocations  lay,  and  supplemented  this  advice  later  with  voluminous  in- 
terested correspondence.  I  could  not  help  picking  up  his  principles 
and  some  of  his  ardor,  though  I  have  never  been  able  to  analyze  char- 
acter so  well.  No  amount  of  front  or  salesmanship  could  divert  him, 
whereas  I  have  often  been  taken  in  by  a  person's  self-confidence  and 
estimation  of  himself. 

In  the  predominantly  Roman  Catholic  community  of  Corning,  set 
crosses  in  the  cemeteries  were  the  rule  for  the  poor  and,  before  they 
went  out  of  style,  angels  in  various  poses  for  the  rich.  I  used  to 
watch  father  at  work.  The  rough,  penciled  sketch  indicated  little; 
even  less  did  the  first  unshaped  block  of  stone.  He  played  with  the 
hard,  unyielding  marble  as  though  it  were  clay,  making  a  tiny  chip 


20  MARGARET   SANGER 

for  a  mouth,  which  grew  rounder  and  rounder.  A  face  then  emerged, 
a  shoulder,  a  sweep  of  drapery,  praying  hands,  until  finally  the  whole  j 
stood  complete  with  wings  and  halo. 

Although  Catholics  were  father's  best  patrons,  by  nature  and  up- 
bringing he  deplored  their  dogma.  He  joined  the  Knights  of  Labor, 
who  were  agitating  against  the  influx  of  unskilled  immigrants  from 
Catholic  countries,  and  this  did  not  endear  him  to  his  clientele.  Still 
less  did  his  espousal  of  Colonel  Robert  G.  Ingersoll,  a  man  after  his 
own  heart,  whose  works  he  had  eagerly  studied  and  used  as  texts. 
Once  when  the  challenger  was  sounding  a  ringing  defiance  in  near-by 
towns,  father  extended  an  invitation  to  speak  in  Corning  and  en- 
lighten it.  He  collected  subscriptions  to  pay  for  the  only  hall  in  town, 
owned  by  Father  Coghlan.  A  notice  was  inserted  in  the  paper  that 
the  meeting  would  be  held  the  following  Sunday,  but  chiefly  the 
news  spread  by  word  of  mouth.  "Better  come.  Tell  all  your  friends." 

Sunday  afternoon  arrived,  and  father  escorted  "Colonel  Bob" 
from  the  hotel  to  the  hall,  I  trotting  by  his  side.  We  pushed  through 
the  waiting  crowd,  but  shut  doors  stared  silently  and  reprovingly — 
word  had  also  reached  Father  Coghlan. 

Some  were  there  to  hear  and  learn,  others  to  denounce.  Antipathies 
between  the  two  suddenly  exploded  in  action.  Tomatoes,  apples,  and 
cabbage  stumps  began  to  fly.^This  was  my  first  experience  of  rage 
directed  against  those  holding  views  which  were  contrary  to  accepted 

/ones!\[t  was  my  first,  but  by  no  means  my  last.  I  was  to  encounter  it 
many  times,  and  always  with  the  same  bewilderment  and  disdain. 
My  father  apparently  felt  only  the  disdain.  Resolutely  he  announced 
the  meeting  would  take  place  in  the  woods  near  our  home  an  hour 
later,  then  led  Ingersoll  and  the  "flock"  through  the  streets.  I  trudged 
along  again,  my  small  hand  clasped  in  his,  my  head  held  just  as  high. 
Who  cared  for  the  dreary,  dark,  little  hall !  In  the  woodland  was 
room  for  all.  Those  who  had  come  for  discussion  sat  spell-bound  on 
the  ground  in  a  ring  around  the  standing  orator.  For  them  the  boo- 
ing had  been  incidental  and  was  ignored.  I  cannot  remember  a  word 
of  what  Colonel  Ingersoll  said,  but  the  scene  remains.  It  was  late  in 
the  afternoon,  and  the  tall  pines  shot  up  against  the  fiery  radiance 
of  the  setting  sun,  which  lit  the  sky  with  the  brilliance  peculiar  to  the 
afterglows  of  the  Chemung  Valley. 


FROM    WHICH    I   SPRING  21 

Florid,  gray-haired  Father  Coghlan,  probably  tall  in  his  prime, 
came  to  call  on  mother.  He  was  a  kindly  old  gentleman,  not  really 
intolerant.  Shutting  the  hall  had  been  a  matter  of  principle;  he  could 
not  have  an  atheist  within  those  sacred  walls.  But  he  was  willing  to 
talk  about  it  afterwards.  In  fact,  he  rather  enjoyed  arguing  with 
rebels.  He  was  full  of  persuasion  which  he  used  on  mother,  begging 
her  to  exercise  her  influence  with  father  to  make  him  refrain  from 
his  evil  ways.  She  had  been  reared  in  the  faith,  although  since  her 
marriage  to  a  freethinker  which  had  so  distressed  her  parents,  she 
had  never  attended  church  to  my  knowledge.  The  priest  was  troubled 
to  see  her  soul  damned  when  she  might  have  been  a  good  Catholic, 
and  implored  her  to  send  her  children  to  church  and  to  the  parochial 
school,  to  stand  firm  against  the  intrusion  of  godlessness.  Mother 
must  have  suffered  from  the  conflict. 

None  of  us  realized  how  the  Ingersoll  episode  was  to  affect  our 
well-being.  Thereafter  we  were  known  as  children  of  the  devii^  On 
our  way  to  school  names  were  shouted,  tongues  stuck  out,  grimaces 
made;  the  juvenile  stamp  of  disapproval  had  been  set  upon  us.  But 
we  had  been  so  steeped  in  "heretic"  notions  that  we  were  not  par- 
ticularly bothered  by  this  and  could  not  see  ahead  into  the  dark  fu- 
ture when  a  hard  childhood  was  to  be  made  harder.  No  more  marble 
angels  were  to  be  carved  for  local  Catholic  cemeteries,  and,  while 
father's  income  was  diminishing,  the  family  was  increasing. 

Occasionally  big  commissions  were  offered  him  in  adjacent  towns 
where  his  reputation  was  still  high,  and  he  was  then  away  for  days 
at  a  time,  coming  back  with  a  thousand  or  fifteen  hundred  dollars 
in  his  pocket;  we  all  had  new  clothes,  and  the  house  was  full  of 
plenty.  Food  was  bought  for  the  winter — turnips,  apples,  flour,  po- 
tatoes. But  then  again  a  year  might  pass  before  he  had  another  one, 
and  meanwhile  we  had  sunk  deeply  into  debt. 

Towards  orthodox  religion'  father's  own  attitude  remained  one  of 
tolerance.  He  looked  upon  the  New  Testament  as  the  noble  story 
of  a  human  being  which,  because  of  ignorance  and  the  lack  of  print- 
ing presses,  had  become  exaggerated.  He  maintained  that  religions 
served  their  purpose;  some  people  depended  on  them  all  their  lives 
for  discipline — to  keep  them  straight,  to  make  them  honest.  Others 
did  not  need  to  be  so  held  in  line.  But  subjection  to  any  church  was 


22  MARGARET    SANGER 

a  reflection  on  strength  and  character.  You  should  be  able  to  get  from 
yourself  what  you  had  to  go  to  church  for. 

'When  we  asked  which  Sunday  School  we  should  attend,  he  sug- 
gested, "Try  them  all,  but  be  chained  to  none."  For  a  year  or  two  I 
made  the  rounds,  especially  at  Christmas  and  Easter,  when  you  re- 
ceived oranges  and  little  bags  of  candy.  It  was  always  cold  at  the 
Catholic  church  and  the  wooden  benches  were  very  bare  and  hard; 
some  seats  were  upholstered  in  soft,  red  cloth  but  these  were  for  the 
rich,  who  rented  the  pews  and  put  dollars  into  the  plate  at  collection. 
I  never  liked  to  see  the  figure  of  Jesus  on  the  cross ;  we  could  not  help 
Him  because  He  had  been  crucified  long  ago.  I  much  preferred  the 
Virgin  Mary;  she  was  beautiful,  smiling — the  way  I  should  like  to 
look  when  I  had  a  baby. 

Saying  my  prayers  for  mother's  benefit  was  spasmodic.  Ethel,  the 
sister  nearest  my  own  age,  was  more  given  than  I  to  religious  phases 
and  I  could  get  her  in  bed  faster  if  I  said  them  with  her.  One  eve- 
ning when  we  had  finished  this  dutiful  ritual  I  climbed  on  father's 
chair  to  kiss  him  good  night.  He  asked  quizzically,  "What  was  that 
you  were  saying  about  bread  ?" 

"Why,  that  was  in  the  Lord's  Prayer,  'Give  us  this  day  our  daily 
bread.'  " 

"Who  were  you  talking  to  ?" 

"To  God." 

"Is  God  a  baker?" 

I  was  shocked.  Nevertheless,  I  rallied  to  the  attack  and  replied  as 
best  I  could,  doubtless  influenced  by  conversations  I  had  heard.  "No, 
of  course  not.  It  means  the  rain,  the  sunshine,  and  all  the  things  to 
make  the  wheat,  which  makes  the  bread." 

"Well,  well,"  he  replied,  "so  that's  the  idea.  Then  why  don't  you 
say  so  ?  Always  say  what  you  mean,  my  daughter ;  it  is  much  better." 

Thereafter  I  began  to  question  what  I  had  previously  taken  for 
granted  and  to  reason  for  myself.  It  was  not  pleasant,  but  father  had 
taught  me  to  think.  He  gave  none  of  us  much  peace.  When  we  put 
on  stout  shoes  he  said,  "Very  nice.  Very  comfortable.  Do  you  know 
who  made  them?" 

"Why,  yes,  the  shoemaker." 

We  then  had  to  listen  to  graphic  descriptions  of  factory  conditions 


FROM    WHICH    I   SPRING  23 

in  the  shoe  industry,  so  that  we  might  learn  something  of  the  misery 
and  poverty  the  workers  suffered  in  order  to  keep  our  feet  warm  and 
dry. 

Father  never  talked  about  religion  without  bringing  in  the  ballot 
box.  In  fact,  he  took  up  Socialism  because  he  believed  it  Christian 
philosophy  put  into  practice,  and  to  me  its  ideals  still  come  nearest 
to  carrying  out  what  Christianity  was  supposed  to  do.  Unceasingly 
he  tried  to  inculcate  in  us  the  idea  that  our  duty  lay  not  in  consider- 
ing what  might  happen  to  us  after  death,  but  in  doing  something  here 
and  now  to  make  the  lives  of  other  human  beings  more  decent.  "You 
have  no  right  to  material  comforts  without  giving  back  to  society 
the  benefit  of  your  honest  experience,"  was  one  of  his  maxims,  and 
his  parting  words  to  each  of  his  sons  and  daughters  who  had  grown 
old  enough  to  fend  for  themselves  were  J  "Leave  the  world  better 
because  you,  my  child,  have  dwelt  in  it."  J 

This  was  something  to  live  up  to. 


Chapter  Two 


BLIND  GERM  OF  DAYS  TO  BE 

"l  think,  dearest  Uncle,  that  you  cannot  really  wish  me  to  be 
the  'mamma  d'une  nombreuse  famille,'  for  I  think  you  will  see  the 
great  inconvenience  a  large  family  would  be  to  us  all,  and  particu- 
larly to  the  country,  independent  of  the  hardship  and  inconvenience 
to  myself;  men  never  think,  at  least  seldom  think,  ivhat  a  hard  task 
it  is  for  us  women  to  go  through  this  very  often." 

QUEEN  VICTORIA  to   KING  LEOPOLD 

OFTEN  when  my  brothers  and  sisters  and  I  meet  we  remind 
each  other  of  funny  or  exciting  adventures  we  used  to  have, 
but  I  never  desire  to  live  that  early  part  of  my  life  again.  Childhood 
is  supposed  to  be  a  happy  time.  Mine  was  difficult,  though  I  did  not 
then  think  of  it  as  a  disadvantage  nor  do  I  now. 

It  never  occurred  to  me  to  ask  my  parents  for  pocket  money,  but 
the  day  came  during  my  eighth  year  when  I  was  desperately  in 
want  of  ten  cents.  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin  was  coming  to  town.  On  Sat- 
urday afternoon  I  started  out  with  one  of  my  playmates,  she  with 
her  dime,  I  with  nothing  but  faith.  We  reached  the  Corning  Opera 
House  half  an  hour  early.  The  throng  at  the  entrance  grew  thicker 
and  thicker.  Curtain  time  had  almost  come,  and  still  no  miracle. 
Nevertheless,  I  simply  had  to  get  into  that  theater.  All  about  me 
had  tickets  or  money  or  both.  Suddenly  I  felt  something  touch  my 
arm — the  purse  of  a  woman  who  was  pressed  close  beside  me.  It 
was  open,  and  I  could  see  the  coveted  coins  within.  One  quick  move 
and  I  could  have  my  heart's  desire.  The  longing  was  so  deep  and 
hard  that  it  blotted  out  everything  except  my  imperative  need.  I  had 
to  get  into  that  theater. 

I  was  about  to  put  out  my  hand  towards  the  bag  when  the  doors 
were  thrown  wide  and  the  crowd  precipitately  surged  forward.  Be- 

24 


BLIND    GERM    OF   DAYS    TO    BE  2$ 

ing  small,  I  was  shoved  headlong  under  the  ropes  and  into  the  safety 
of  the  nearest  seat.  But  I  could  take  no  joy  in  the  play. 

As  I  lay  sleepless  that  night,  after  a  prayer  of  thanks  for  my  many 
blessings,  the  crack  of  Simon  Legree's  whip  and  the  off-stage  hounds 
baying  after  Eliza  were  not  occupying  my  mind.  Their  places  were 
taken  by  pictures  of  the  devil  which  had  tempted  me  and  the  hand 
of  God  which  had  been  stretched  out  to  save  me  from  theft. 

Following  this  experience,  which  might  have  been  called  a  spiritual 
awakening,  I  began  to  connect  my  desires  with  reasoning  about  con- 
sequences. This  was  difficult,  because  my  feelings  were  strong  and 
urgent.  I  realized  I  was  made  up  of  two  Me's — one  the  thinking  Me, 
the  other,  willful  and  emotional,  which  sometimes  exercised  too  great 
a  power ;  there  was  danger  in  her  leadership  and  I  set  myself  the  task 
of  uniting  the  two  by  putting  myself  through  ordeals  of  various 
sorts  to  strengthen  the  head  Me.  ^ 

To  gain  greater  fortitude,  I  began  to  make  myself  do  what  I 
feared  most — go  upstairs  alone  to  bed  without  a  light,  go  down  cel- 
lar without  singing,  get  up  on  the  rafters  in  the  barn  and  jump  on 
the  haystack  thirty  feet  below.  When  I  was  able  to  accomplish  these 
without  flinching  I  felt  more  secure  and  more  strong  within  myself. 

But  ahead  of  me  still  lay  the  hardest  task  of  all. 

Across  the  Chemung  some  friends  of  ours  had  a  farm.  Their 
orchard,  heavy  with  delectable  apples,  seemed  to  me  a  veritable  Eden. 
But  to  reach  it  by  the  wooden  wagon  bridge  was  three  miles  around ; 
my  brothers  preferred  the  shorter  route  over  the  high,  narrow,  iron 
span  of  the  Erie  Railroad,  under  which  the  river  raced  deep  and 
fast.  The  spaced  ties  held  no  terrors  for  their  long  legs,  and  they 
often  swung  them  over  the  edge  while  they  fished  the  stream  beneath. 
When  I  made  the  trip  father  and  brother  each  gave  a  hand  to  which 
I  clung  fiercely,  and  they  half  lifted  me  over  the  gaps  which  my 
shorter  legs  could  hardly  compass  unaided.  Held  tight  as  I  was,  I  be- 
came dizzy  from  the  height,  and  a  panic  of  terror  seized  me.  In  fact, 
the  mere  thought  of  the  journey,  even  so  well  supported,  made  me 
feel  queer. 

The  younger  children  were  forbidden  to  cross  the  bridge  unac- 
companied. But  I  had  to  conquer  my  fear;  I  had  to  take  that  walk 
alone.  I  trembled  as  I  drew  near.  The  more  I  feared  it,  the  more 


26  MARGARET   SANGER 

determined  I  was  to  make  myself  do  it.  I  can  recall  now  how  stoically 
I  put  one  foot  on  the  first  tie  and  began  the  venturesome  and  pre- 
carious passage  stretching  endlessly  ahead  of  me.  I  dared  not  look 
down  at  the  water ;  I  wanted  terribly  to  see  that  my  feet  were  firmly 
placed,  but  could  not  trust  my  head. 

About  halfway  over  I  heard  the  hum  of  the  steel  rails.  My  sec- 
ond dread  had  come  upon  me — the  always  possible  train.  I  could 
not  see  it  because  of  the  curve  at  the  end  of  the  bridge.  The  singing 
grew  louder  as  it  came  closer.  I  knew  I  could  not  get  across  in  time, 
and  turned  towards  the  nearest  girder  to  which  I  might  cling.  But 
it  was  six  feet  away.  The  engine  with  a  whistling  shriek  burst  into 
view — snorting,  huge,  menacing,  rushing.  I  stumbled  and  fell. 

In  those  days  I  was  plump,  and  this  plumpness  saved  me.  In- 
stinctively my  arms  went  out  and  curled  around  the  ties  as  I  dropped 
between  them.  There  I  dangled  over  space.  The  bridge  shook;  the 
thunder  swelled ;  the  long,  swift  passenger  cars  swooped  down.  I  was 
less  than  three  feet  from  the  outer  rail,  and  a  new  terror  gripped 
me.  I  had  seen  the  sharp,  sizzling  steam  jet  out  as  locomotives  drew 
near  the  station.  I  screwed  my  eyes  shut  and  prayed  the  engineer 
not  to  turn  on  the  steam. 

After  the  blur  of  wheels  had  crashed  by  I  could  feel  nothing. 
I  hung  there,  I  do  not  know  how  long,  until  a  friend  of  my  father, 
who  had  been  fishing  below,  came  to  my  rescue.  He  pulled  up  the 
fat,  aching  little  body,  stood  me  on  my  feet  again,  asked  me  severely 
whether  my  father  knew  where  I  was,  gave  me  two  brisk  thwacks  on 
the  bottom,  turned  my  face  towards  home,  and  went  back  to  his 
rod  and  line. 

After  waiting  a  few  moments  to  think  matters  over  I  realized 
that  it  would  be  impossible  for  me  to  retrace  my  course.  Common 
sense  aided  me.  The  journey  forward  was  no  further  than  the  jour- 
ney back.  I  stepped  ahead  far  more  bravely,  knowing  if  I  could  reach 
the  end  of  the  bridge  I  would  never  be  so  terrified  again.  Though 
bruised  and  sore  I  continued  my  cautious  march  and  had  as  good  a 
time  at  the  farm  as  usual. 

However,  I  returned  home  by  the  wooden  bridge,  the  long  way 
round,  but  the  practical  one. 

When  Ethel  asked  me  that  night  why  I  was  putting  vaseline  under 


BLIND   GERM    OF   DAYS   TO   BE  2^ 

my  arms  I  merely  said  I  had  scratched  myself.  Foolhardiness  was 
never  highly  esteemed  by  anyone  in  the  family.  Though  resource- 
fulness was  taken  for  granted,  running  into  unnecessary  danger 
was  just  nonsense,  and  I  wanted  no  censure  for  my  disobedience. 

We  were  seldom  scolded,  never  spanked!  If  an  unpleasant  con- 
versation were  needed,  no  other  brother  or  sister  was  witness; 
•neither  parent  ever  humiliated  one  child  in  front  of  another.  This 
was  part  of  the  sensitiveness  of  both.  Mother  in  particular  had  a 
horror  of  personal  vehemence  or  acrimonious  arguments;  in  trying 
to  prevent  or  stop  them  she  would  display  amazing  intrepidity — 
separating  fighting  dogs,  fighting  boys,  even  fighting  men. 

Peacemaker  as  she  was,  on  occasion  she  battled  valiantly  for  her 
loved  ones,  resenting  bitterly  the  corporal  punishment  then  customary 
in  schools.  Once  my  brother  Joe  came  home  with  his  hands  so  swol- 
len and  blistered  that  he  could  not  do  his  evening  chore  of  bringing 
in  the  wood.  Mother  looked  carefully  at  them  and  asked  him  what 
had  happened.  He  explained  that  the  teacher  had  fallen  asleep  and 
several  boys  had  started  throwing  spitballs.  When  one  had  hit  her 
on  the  nose  she  had  awakened  with  a  little  scream. 

Most  children  had  the  trick  of  burying  their  faces  behind  their 
big  geographies  and  appearing  to  be  studying  the  page  with  the  most 
innocent  air  in  the  world.  But  Joe  had  no  such  technique.  He  was 
doubled  up  with  laughter.  The  teacher  first  accused  him  of  throwing 
the  spitball,  and,  when  he  denied  it,  insisted  that  he  name  the  cul- 
prit. She  had  been  embarrassed  by  her  ridiculous  situation,  and  had 
turned  her  emotion  into  what  she  considered  righteous  indignation. 
Joe  had  paid  the  penalty  of  being  beaten  for  his  unwillingness  to  vio- 
late the  schoolboy  code  of  honor. 

This  was  injustice  and  the  surest  road  to  mother's  wrath.  She 
started  at  once  the  long  trip  to  the  school.  When  she  found  no  one 
there,  she  walked  more  miles  to  the  teacher's  home.  Reproof  was 
called  for  and  she  administered  it.  But  that  was  not  enough.  She 
then  demanded  that  father  go  to  the  Board  of  Education  and  take 
Joe  with  him.  There  would  have  been  no  sleeping  in  the  house  with 
her  had  he  not  done  so.  An  investigation  was  promised,  which  soon 
afterwards  resulted  in  the  teacher's  dismissal. 

The  teachers  at  the  Corning  School  were  no  worse  than  others  of 


28  MARGARET    SANGER 

their  day ;  many  of  them  were  much  better.  The  brick  building  was 
quite  modern  for  the  time,  with  a  playground  around  it  and  good 
principals  to  guide  it.  Its  superiority  was  due  in  part  to  the  influ- 
ence of  the  Houghtons,  the  big  industrialists  of  the  town.  For  three 
generations  they  had  been  making  glassware  unsurpassed  for  tex- 
ture and  beauty  of  design,  and  hardly  a  family  of  means  in  the  coun- 
try did  not  have  at  least  one  cut-glass  centerpiece  from  Corning.  The 
factories  had  prospered  during  the  kerosene  lamp  era,  and  now,  with 
electricity  coming  into  its  own,  they  were  working  overtime  blowing 
light  bulbs. 

Corning  was  not  on  the  whole  a  pleasant  town.  Along  the  river 
flats  lived  the  factory  workers,  chiefly  Irish;  on  the  heights  above 
the  rolling  clouds  of  smoke  that  belched  from  the  chimneys  lived  the 
owners  and  executives.  The  tiny  yards  of  the  former  were  a-sprawl 
with  children;  in  the  gardens  on  the  hills  only  two  or  three  played. 
This  contrast  made  a  track  in  my  mind.  Large  families  were  asso- 
ciated with  poverty,  toil,  unemployment,  drunkenness,  cruelty,  fight- 
ing, jails;  the  small  ones  with  cleanliness,  leisure,  freedom,  light, 
space,  sunshine. 

The  fathers  of  the  small  families  owned  their  homes;  the  young- 
looking  mothers  had  time  to  play  croquet  with  their  husbands  in  the 
evenings  on  the  smooth  lawns.  Their  clothes  had  style  and  charm, 
and  the  fragrance  of  perfume  clung  about  them.  They  walked  hand 
in  hand  on  shopping  expeditions  with  their  children,  who  seemed 
positive  in  their  right  to  live.  To  me  the  distinction  between  happi- 
ness and  unhappiness  in  childhood  was  one  of  small  families  and  of 
large  families  rather  than  of  wealth  and  poverty. 

In  our  home,  too,  we  felt  the  economic  pressure  directly  ascrib- 
able  to  size.  I  was  always  apprehensive  that  we  might  some  day  be 
like  the  families  on  the  flats,  because  we  always  had  another  baby 
coming,  another  baby  coming.  A  new  litter  of  puppies  was  interest- 
ing but  not  out  of  the  ordinary;  so,  likewise,  the  cry  of  a  new  in- 
fant never  seemed  unexpected.  Neither  excited  any  more  curiosity 
than  breakfast  or  dinner.  No  one  ever  told  me  how  they  were  born. 
I  just  knew. 

I  was  little  more  than  eight  when  I  first  helped  wash  the  fourteen- 
and-a-half -pound  baby  after  one  of  mother's  deliveries.  She  had  had 


BLIND    GERM    OF   DAYS   TO   BE  20, 

a  "terrible  hard  time,"  but  father  had  pulled  her  through,  and,  in  a 
few  weeks,  tired  and  coughing,  she  was  going  about  her  work,  be- 
lieving as  usual  that  her  latest  was  the  prize  of  perfect  babies. 
(Mother's  eleven  children  were  all  ten-pounders  or  more,  and  both 
she  and  father  had  a  eugenic  pride  of  race.  I  used  to  hear  her  say 
that  not  one  of  hers  had  a  mark  or  blemish,  although  she  had  the 
utmost  compassion  for  those  who  might  have  cleft  palates,  crossed 
eyes,  or  be  "born  sick." 

Late  one  night  a  woman  rushed  into  our  house,  seeking  protec- 
tion, clutching  in  her  shawl  a  scrawny,  naked  baby,  raw  with  eczema. 
When  her  hysteria  was  calmed  sufficiently  we  learned  that  her  hus- 
band had  reeled  home  drunk  and  had  thrown  the  wailing  infant 
out  into  the  snow.  Father  was  all  for  summoning  the  police,  but 
mother  was  too  wise  for  that.  She  dispatched  him  to  talk  to  the 
man  while  she  gave  the  weeping  woman  a  warm  supper  and  com- 
forted her.  Father  returned  shortly  to  say  it  was  safe  for  her  to  go 
back  to  the  multitude  of  other  children  because  her  husband  had 
fallen  asleep.  Ugly  and  taciturn  though  he  was  I  could  picture  him 
coming  home  after  a  hard  day's  work  to  a  household  racked  with 
the  shrieks  of  the  suffering  little  thing.  I  could  see  that  he  too  was 
pathetic  and  a  victim ;  I  had  sympathy  for  his  rage. 

Put  mother  did  lose  one  of  her  beautiful  babies.  Henry  George 
McGlynn  Higgins  had  been  named  for  two  of  the  rebel  figures 
father  most  admired.  The  four-year-old  was  playing  happily  in  the 
afternoon;  a  few  hours  later  he  was  gasping  for  breath.  Father 
heated  his  home-made  croup  kettle  on  the  stove  until  it  boiled,  and 
then  carried  it  steaming  to  be  put  under  the  blanket  which  rose 
like  a  covered  wagon  above  the  bed.  As  soon  as  he  realized  that 
home  remedies  were  failing  he  sent  for  the  doctor.  But  events  moved 
too  swiftly  for  him.  We  had  gone  to  bed  with  no  suspicion  that  by 
morning  we  should  be  one  less.  I  was  shocked  and  surprised  that 
something  could  come  along  and  pick  one  of  us  out  of  the  world  in 
so  few  hours. 

I  had  no  time,  however,  to  consider  the  bewildering  verity  of 
death.  We  all  had  to  turn  to  consoling  mother.  Perhaps  unconsciously 
she  had  subscribed  to  father's  theory  that  the  face  was  the  mirror 
to  the  soul.  She  complained  she  had  no  picture  of  her  lovely  boy, 


30  MARGARET   SANGER 

and  kept  reminding  herself  of  the  fine  shape  of  his  head,  the  wide, 
well-set  eyes,  the  familiar  contours  which  had  been  wiped  forever 
from  her  sight,  and  might  soon  be  sponged  from  her  memory  as 
well. 

Mother's  grief  over  her  lost  child  increased  father's.  Because  in 
part  he  blamed  himself,  he  was  desperate  to  assuage  her  sorrow.  The 
day  after  the  burial  he  was  constantly  occupied  in  his  studio,  and 
when  evening  fell  he  took  me  affectionately  by  the  hand  asking  me 
to  stay  up  and  help  him  on  a  piece  of  work  he  was  about  to  do.  I 
agreed  willingly. 

About  eleven  o'clock  we  went  forth  together  into  the  pitch-black 
night,  father  pushing  ahead  of  him  a  wheelbarrow  full  of  tools  and  a 
bag  of  plaster  of  Paris.  We  walked  on  and  on  through  the  stillness 
for  fully  two  miles  to  the  cemetery  where  the  little  brother  had  been 
buried.  Father  knew  every  step,  but  it  was  scary  and  I  clung  to  his 
hand. 

Just  beyond  the  gateway  father  hid  the  lighted  lantern  in  the  near- 
by bushes  over  a  grave  and  told  me  to  wait  there  unless  I  heard  some- 
body coming.  He  expected  me  to  be  grown  up  at  the  age  of  ten. 
Nerves  meant  sickness;  if  any  child  cried  out  in  the  night  it  was 
merely  considered  "delicate."  Consequently  I  obeyed  and  watched, 
shivering  with  cold  and  excitement,  darting  quick  glances  at  the 
ghostly  forms  of  some  of  father's  monuments  which  loomed  out  of 
the  darkness  around  me.  I  could  hear  the  steady  chunk,  chunk,  chunk 
of  his  pick  and  shovel,  and  the  sharper  sound  when  suddenly  he  struck 
the  coffin. 

Father  had  taken  it  as  a  matter  of  course  that  I  should  under- 
stand and  had  not  explained  what  he  was  about  to  do.  But  I  never 
questioned  his  actions.  I  did  not  know  there  was  a  law  against  a 
man's  digging  up  his  own  dead  child  but,  even  had  I  known,  I  would 
have  believed  that  the  law  was  wrong. 

We  traveled  back  the  long,  weary  way,  arriving  home  in  the  early 
hours  of  the  morning.  Nothing  was  said  to  mother  or  to  the  others 
about  that  amazing  night's  adventure ;  I  was  not  told  to  keep  silent, 
but  I  knew  there  was  mystery  in  the  air  and  it  was  no  time  to  talk. 

For  two  evenings  I  worked  with  father,  helping  him  break  the 
death  mask,  mold  and  shape  the  cast.  I  remember  the  queer  feeling 


BLIND   GERM    OF   DAYS   TO   BE  3 1 

I  had  when  I  discovered  some  of  the  hair  which  had  stuck  in  the 
plaster.  On  the  third  day,  just  after  supper,  father  said  to  us  all, 
"Will  you  come  into  the  studio?"  With  tender  eyes  on  mother  he 
uncovered  and  presented  to  her  the  bust  of  the  dead  little  boy. 

She  was  extraordinarily  comforted.  Though  to  me  the  model,  per- 
fect as  it  was,  seemed  lifeless,  every  once  in  a  while  she  entered 
the  studio,  took  off  the  cloth  which  protected  it  from  the  dust,  wept 
and  was  relieved,  re-covered  it  and  went  on. 

Not  one  of  us  dared  to  utter  a  word  of  criticism  about  mother's 
adored  and  adoring  husband;  nevertheless  her  soul  was  harassed 
at  times  by  his  philosophy  of  live  and  let  live,  by  his  principles  against 
locked  doors  and  private  property.  She  was  merely-selfless.  Often 
when  one  of  her  children  was  feverish  she  went  to  the  kitchen  pump 
for  water  so  that  it  might  be  cooler  and  fresher  for  parched  lips. 
Once,  groping  her  way  on  such  an  errand,  she  stumbled  over  a 
tramp  who  had  taken  advantage  of  the  unlatched  door  and  lay 
sprawled  on  the  floor.  She  rushed  back  to  arouse  father,  telling  him 
he  must  put  the  man  out.  But  he  only  turned  over  on  his  side  and 
muttered,  "Oh,  let  him  alone.  The  poor  divil  needs  sleep  like  the 
rest  of  us." 

Another  night  mother  was  awakened  by  noises  outside.  "Father," 
she  called,  "there's  somebody  at  the  hencoop!" 

"What  makes  you  think  so?"  he  answered  sleepily. 

"I  hear  the  chickens.  They  wouldn't  make  a  noise  unless  some- 
body was  in  there.  Get  up !" 

Obediently  father  put  on  his  trousers  and  coat;  not  even  before 
thieves  would  he  appear  in  his  nightshirt  out  of  his  bedroom.  He 
proceeded  to  the  kitchen  door,  and,  holding  a  lamp  on  high,  addressed 
the  two  men,  one  of  whom  was  handing  out  chickens  to  the  other, 
"Hey,  you,  there!  What  do  you  mean  by  coming  to  a  man's  house 
in  the  middle  of  the  night  and  shtealing  his  chickens?  What  kind  of 
citizens  are  you  ?" 

This  seemed  to  mother  no  time  for  a  moral  lecture.  "Why  don't 
you  go  out  ?"  she  prodded. 

"It's  raining." 

"Give  me  the  lamp !"  she  demanded,  exasperated. 

She  started  towards  our  nearest  neighbor,  splashing  through  the 


32  MARGARET    SANGER 

little  brook,  getting  her  feet  wet,  calling,  "Some  one's  in  our  chicken 
house !" 

Our  neighbor  armed  himself  and  came  running.  A  man  with  a 
gun  sent  the  marauders  scurrying  up  the  hill.  That  was  mother's 
philosophy.  I  think  father  fell  in  her  estimation  for  a  few  days  after 
this.  She  expected  him  to  be  the  guardian  of  the  home,  but  he  was 
never  that.  His  liberal  views  were  so  well  known  that  our  house  was 
marked  with  the  tramp's  patrin  of  the  first  degree.  "Always  get 
something  here.  Never  be  turned  away."  If  it  happened  to  be  pay 
day  they  could  count  on  a  quarter  as  well  as  a  meal. 

One  particular  evening  we  were  expecting  father  home,  his  pock- 
ets bulging  with  the  money  from  his  latest  commission,  but  by  night- 
fall he  had  not  yet  returned.  When  mother  heard  a  rap  at  the  door 
she  went  eagerly  to  open  it.  Two  ragged  strangers  were  standing 
there. 

"Is  the  boss  in  ?" 

"No,  but  I'm  looking  for  him  any  minute." 

"We  want  something  to  eat." 

With  no  more  ceremony  than  was  customary  among  the  knights  of 
the  open  road  they  pushed  through  the  door  and  made  for  the 
kitchen,  plainly  knowing  their  way  about. 

"How  dare  you  come  into  this  house!"  exclaimed  mother  indig- 
nantly. "Toss!  Beauty!"  she  cried  sharply.  The  fear  in  her  voice 
brought  the  dogs  lunging  downstairs  with  fangs  bared  and  hackles 
bristling.  They  leaped  at  the  backs  of  the  uninvited  guests. 

Father  came  in  a  few  hours  later.  The  door  was  swinging  wide, 
the  snow  was  blowing  in.  Torn  scraps  of  clothing,  spots  of  blood 
were  about,  and  mother  was  unconscious  on  the  floor.  He  poured 
whiskey  down  her  throat.  "It  was  only  good  whiskey  that  brought 
you  to,"  he  often  said  afterwards,  recalling  his  alarm.  He  used  the 
same  remedy  to  pull  her  through  the  ensuing  six  weeks  of  pneumonia. 
But  he  had  been  so  thoroughly  worried  that  his  generosity  towards 
tramps  lessened  and  his  largesse  was  curtailed. 

After  this  illness  mother  coughed  more  than  ever  and  it  was  evi- 
dent the  pines  were  not  helping  her.  Father  decided  to  move;  the 
house  was  so  obviously  marked  and  he  had  to  be  gone  so  much  he 
thought  it  unsafe  for  us  to  live  alone  so  far  away. 


Chapter  Three 


BOOKS  ARE  THE  COMPASSES 


SO  we  moved  into  town,  still  on  the  western  hills.  It  marked  the 
beginning  of  my  adolescence,  and  such  breaks  are  always  dis- 
turbing. In  the  house  in  the  woods  we  had  all  been  children  together, 
but  now  some  of  us  were  growing  up. 

Nevertheless,  there  were  always  smaller  ones  to  be  put  to  bed,  to 
be  rocked  to  sleep;  there  were  feet  and  knees  to  be  scrubbed  and 
hands  to  be  washed.  Although  we  had  more  space,  home  study  some- 
times seemed  to  me  impossible.  The  living  room  was  usually  occu- 
pied by  the  older  members  of  the  family,  and  the  bedrooms  were  cold. 
I  kept  up  in  my  lessons,  but  it  was  simply  because  I  enjoyed  them. 

In  most  schools  teachers  and  pupils  then  were  natural  enemies, 
and  the  one  I  had  in  the  eighth  grade  was  particularly  adept  at  arous- 
ing antagonism.  She  apparently  disliked  her  job  and  the  youngsters 
under  her  care  as  much  as  we  hated  her.  Sarcasm  was  both  her  de- 
'fense  and  weapon  of  attack.  One  day  in  mid-June  I  was  delayed  in 
getting  off  for  school.  Well  aware  that  being  tardy  was  a  heinous 
crime,  I  hurried,  pulling  and  tugging  at  my  first  pair  of  kid  gloves, 
which  Mary  had  just  given  me.  But  the  bell  had  rung  two  minutes 
before  I  walked  into  the  room,  flushed  and  out  of  breath. 

The  teacher  had  already  begun  the  class.  She  looked  up  at  the  in- 
terruption. "Well,  well,  Miss  Higgins,  so  your  ladyship  has  arrived 
at  last !  Ah,  a  new  pair  of  gloves !  I  wonder  that  she  even  deigns  to 
come  to  school  at  all." 

Giggles  rippled  around  me  as  I  went  into  tKe  cloakroom  and  laid 

33 


34  MARGARET    SANGER 

down  my  hat  and  gloves.  I  came  back,  praying  the  teacher  would 
pay  no  more  attention  to  me,  but  as  I  walked  painfully  to  my  seat 
she  continued  repeating  with  variations  her  mean  comments.  Even 
when  I  sat  down  she  did  not  stop.  I  tried  to  think  of  something  else, 
tried  not  to  listen,  tried  to  smile  with  the  others.  I  endured  it  as  long 
as  I  could,  then  took  out  my  books,  pyramiding  arithmetic,  gram- 
mar, and  speller,  strapped  them  up;  rose,  and  left. 

Mother  was  amazed  when  I  burst  in  on  her.  "I  will  never  go  back 
to  that  school  again !"  I  exclaimed  dramatically.  "I  have  finished  for- 
ever !  I'll  go  to  jail,  I'll  work,  I'll  starve,  I'll  die !  But  back  to  that 
school  and  teacher  I  will  never  go !" 

As  older  brothers  and  sisters  drifted  home  in  the  evening,  they 
were  as  horrified  as  mother.  "But  you  have  only  two  weeks  more," 
they  expostulated. 

"I  don't  care  if  it's  only  an  hour.  I  will  not  go  back!" 

When  it  became  obvious  that  I  would  stick  to  my  point,  mother 
seemed  glad  to  have  me  to  help  her.  I  was  thorough  and  strong  and 
could  get  through  a  surprising  amount  of  work  in  no  time.  But  the 
rest  of  the  family  was  seriously  alarmed.  The  next  few  months  were 
filled  with  questions  I  could  not  answer.  "What  can  you  ever  be  with- 
out an  education?"  "Are  you  equipped  to  earn  a  living?"  "Is  factory 
life  a  pleasant  prospect?  If  you  don't  go  back  to  school,  you'll  surely 
end  there." 

"All  right.  I'll  go  to  work!"  I  announced  defiantly.  Work,  even 
in  the  factory,  meant  money,  and  money  meant  independence.  I  had 
no  rebuttal  to  their  arguments;  I  was  acting  on  an  impulse  that 
transcended  reason,  and  must  have  recognized  that  any  explanation 
as  to  my  momentous  decision  would  sound  foolish. 

Then  suddenly  father,  mother,  my  second  older  sister  Nan,  and 
Mary,  who  had  been  summoned  to  a  family  council,  tried  other  tac- 
tics. I  was  sent  for  two  weeks  to  Chautauqua,  there  to  take  courses, 
hear  lectures  from  prominent  speakers,  listen  to  music.  This  was  de- 
signed to  stimulate  my  interest  in  education  and  dispel  any  idea  I 
might  have  of  getting  a  job. 

My  impulse  had  been  misconstrued.  I  was  not  rebelling  against 
education  as  such,  but  only  against  that  particular  school  and  that 
particular  teacher.  When  fall  drew  near  and  the  next  session  was  at 


BOOKS   ARE   THE   COMPASSES  35 

hand  I  was  still  reiterating  that  I  would  not  go  back,  although  I  still 
had  no  answer  to  Nan's  repeated,  "What  are  you  going  to  do  ?" 

Nan  was  perhaps  the  most  inspiring  of  all  my  brothers  and  sisters. 
The  exact  contrary  to  father,  'she  wanted  us  all  to  conform  and  was 
in  tears  if  we  did  not.  To  her,  failure  in  this  respect  showed  a  lack 
of  breeding.  Yet  even  more  important  than  conformity  was  knowl- 
edge, which  was  the  basis  for  all  true  culture.  She  herself  wanted  to 
write,  and  had  received  prizes  for  stories  from  St.  Nicholas  and  the 
Youth's  Companion.  But  the  family  was  too  dependent  upon  the 
earnings  of  the  older  girls,  and  she  was  obliged  to  postpone  college 
and  her  equally  ardent  desire  to  study  sculpture.  She  became  a  trans- 
lator of  French  and  German  until  these  aspirations  could  be  fulfilled. 

At  the  time  of  my  mutiny  Nan  was  especially  disturbed.  "You 
won't  be  able  to  get  anywhere  without  an  education,"  she  stated 
firmly.  She  and  Mary,  joining  forces,  together  looked  for  a  school, 
reasonable  enough  for  their  purses,  but  good  enough  academically 
to  prepare  me  for  Cornell.  Private  education  was  not  so  expensive  as 
today,  and  families  of  moderate  means  could  afford  it.  My  sisters 
selected  Claverack  College  and  Hudson  River  Institute,  about  three 
miles  from  the  town  of  Hudson  in  the  Catskill  Mountains., Here,  in 
one  of  the  oldest  coeducational  institutions  in  the  country,  the  Meth- 
odist farmers  of  the  Dutch  valley  enrolled  their  sons  and  daughters ; 
unfortunately  it  is  now  gone  and  with  it  the  healthy  spirit  it  typified. 
One  sister  paid  my  tuition  and  the  other  bought  my  books  and 
clothes ;  for  my  board  and  room  I  was  to  work.  , 
j  Going  away  to  school  was  epochal  in  my  life.  The  self-contained 
family  group  was  suddenly  multiplied  to  five  hundred  strangers,  all 
living  and  studying  under  one  roof.  The  girls'  dormitory  was  at  one 
end,  the  boys'  at  the  other,  but  we  shared  the  same  dining  room  and 
sat  together  in  classes ;  occasionally  a  boy  could  call  on  a  girl  in  the 
reception  hall  if  a  teacher  were  present.  I  liked  best  the  attitude  of  the 
teachers;  they  were  not  so  much  policemen  as  companions  and 
friends,  and  their  instruction  was  more  individual  and  stimulating 
than  at  Corning. 

I  did  not  have  money  to  do  things  the  other  girls  did — go  off 
for  week-ends  or  house-parties — but  waiting  on  table  or  washing 
dishes  did  not  set  me  apart.  The  work  was  far  easier  than  at  home, 


36  MARGARET   SANGER 

and  a  girl  was  pretty  well  praised  for  doing  her  share.  At  first  the  stu- 
dents all  appeared  to  me  uninteresting  and  lacking  in  initiative.  I  never 
found  the  same  imaginative  quality  I  was  used  to  in  my  family,  but 
as  certain  ones  began  to  stand  out  I  discovered  they  had  personali- 
ties of  their  own. 

I  had  been  at  Claverack  only  a  few  days  and  was  still  feeling  home- 
sick when  in  the  hall  one  morning  I  encountered  the  most  beautiful 
creature  I  had  ever  seen.  Long  hair  flying  from  her  shoulders,  she 
was  so  slender  and  wraithlike  that  she  seemed  unreal.  I  have  never 
since  been  so  moved  by  human  loveliness  as  I  was  by  Esther's.  I 
cried  at  night  because  I  sensed  it  was  something  I  could  not  reach. 
Even  her  clothes  were  unlike  all  others.  Many  girls  envied  their 
taste  and  quality,  but  I  knew  they  belonged  to  her  of  right.  Of  every 
book  I  had  read  she  was  the  heroine  come  alive. 

Worlds  apart  though  we  were  in  tradition,  looks,  behavior,  ex- 
perience, Esther  and  I  had  the  same  romantic  outlook.  Having  as- 
pirations for  the  theater,  she  remained  only  one  year  and  then  left 
to  attend  Charles  Frohman's  dramatic  school.  I  had  been  too  over- 
powered by  my  admiration  for  her  to  be  happy  in  it,  and  it  kept  me 
from  caring  particularly  about  anyone  else.  Nevertheless,  I  am  con- 
vinced that  in  any  interchange  of  affection  the  balance  is  unequal; 
one  must  give  and  the  other  be  able  to  receive.  My  second  year  I  was 
the  recipient  of  devotion  from  a  younger  girl  similar  to  that  I  had 
showered  upon  Esther.  The  loyalty  and  praise  of  Amelia  Stuart, 
my  laughing  friend,  fed  all  the  empty  spaces  in  my  heart.  She  was 
gay  and  clever,  a  Methodist  by  upbringing  but  not  by  conviction. 
Each  Sunday  afternoon,  given  over  to  the  reading  of  the  Bible,  we 
received  permission  to  study  together  in  my  room,  and  there  occu- 
pied ourselves  dutifully,  I  in  mending  and  darning,  and  she  reading 
aloud,  but  interspersing  solemn  passages  with  ridiculous  exaggera- 
tions. What  was  intended  to  be  a  serious  exercise  of  the  spirit  was 
turned  into  merriment. 

My  friendship  with  these  two  girls  has  been  interrupted,  but  never 
broken. 

Very  shortly  after  my  arrival  at  Claverack  I  had  been  infected 
by  that  indefinable,  nebulous  quality  called  school  spirit,  and  before 
long  was  happily  in  the  thick  of  activities.  Assembly  was  held  in  the 


BOOKS   ARE   THE   COMPASSES  37 

chapel  every  morning,  during  which  we  all  in  turn  had  to  render 
small  speeches  and  essays,  or  recite  selections  of  poetry.  I  had  a  vivid 
feeling  of  how  things  should  be  said,  putting  more  dramatic  fervor 
into  certain  lines  than  my  limited  experience  of  the  theater  would 
seem  to  explain,  and  on  this  account  the  elocution  teacher  encouraged 
me  to  have  faith  in  my  talents. 

Every  girl,  I  suppose,  at  some  time  or  other  wants  to  be  an 
actress.  Mary  had  taken  me  to  the  theater  now  and  then,  once  when 
Maude  Adams  was  playing  Juliet  to  John  Drew's  Romeo,  and  had 
gone  to  some  pains  to  explain  to  me  the  difference  between  artistes 
like  Mary  Anderson  or  Julia  Marlowe  and  mere  beauty  as  such.  She 
would  not  have  been  pleased  at  my  seeing  Lillian  Russell,  which  I 
did  during  a  Christmas  holiday  in  New  York;  Lillian  Russell  was 
too  glamorous  and,  furthermore,  she  was  said  to  have  accepted 
jewelry  from  men. 

One  vacation  I  announced  to  my  family  that  I  was  thinking  of  a 
stage  career.  Disapproval  was  evident  on  all  sides.  Father  pooh- 
poohed  ;  Mary  alone  held  out  hope.  She  said  I  had  ability  and  should 
go  to  dramatic  school  in  New  York  as  soon  as  I  had  finished  Claver- 
ack.  She  would  apply  immediately  to  Charles  Frohman  to  have  me 
understudy  Maude  Adams,  whom  I  at  least  was  said  to  resemble 
physically — small  and  with  the  same  abundant  red-brown  hair.  Lack- 
ing good  features  I  took  pride  only  in  my  thick,  long  braids.  I  used 
to  decorate  them  with  ribbons  and  admire  the  effect  in  the  mirror. 

The  application  was  made;  I  was  photographed  in  various  poses 
with  and  without  hats.  A  return  letter  from  the  school  management 
came,  enclosing  a  form  to  be  filled  in  with  name,  address,  age,  height, 
weight,  color  of  hair,  eyes,  and  skin. 

r  But  additional  data  were  required  as  to  the  exact  length  of  the 
legs,  both  right  and  left,  as  well  as  measurements  of  ankle,  calf,  knee, 
and  thigh.  I  knew  my  proportions  in  a  general  way.  Those  were  the 
days  when  every  pack  of  cigarettes  carried  a  bonus  in  the  shape  of  a 
pictured  actress,  plump  and  well- formed.  In  the  gymnasium  the  girls 
had  compared  sizes  with  these  beauties.  But  to  see  such  personal  in- 
formation go  coldly  down  on  paper  to  be  sent  off  to  strange  men  was 
unthinkable.  I  had  expected  to  have  to  account  for  the  quality  of  my 
voice,  for  my  ability  to  sing,  to  play,  for  grace,  agility,  character,  and 


38  MARGARET    SANGER 

morals.  Since  I  could  not  see  what  legs  had  to  do  with  being  a  sec- 
ond Maude  Adams,  I  did  not  fill  in  the  printed  form  nor  send  the 
photographs,  but  just  put  them  all  away,  and  turned  to  other  fields 
where  something  beside  legs  was  to  count. 

Chapel  never  bored  me.  I  had  come  to  dislike  ritual  in  many  of 
the  churches  I  had  visited — kneeling  for  prayer,  sitting  for  instruc- 
tion, standing  for  praise.  But  in  a  Methodist  chapel  anyone  could 
get  up  and  express  a  conviction.  Young  sprouts  here  were  thinking 
and  discussing  the  Bible,  religion,  and  politics.  Should  the  individual 
be  submerged  in  the  state?  If  you  had  a  right  to  free  thought  as  an 
individual,  should  you  give  it  up  to  the  church  ? 

We  scribbled  during  study  periods,  debated  in  the  evenings.  With- 
out always  digesting  them  but  with  great  positiveness  I  carried  over 
many  of  the  opinions  I  had  heard  expounded  at  home.  To  most  of 
the  boys  and  girls  those  Saturday  mornings  when  the  more  ambitious 
efforts  were  offered  represented  genuine  torture.  They  stuttered  and 
stammered  painfully.  I  was  just  as  nervous — more  so  probably. 
Nevertheless,  I  was  so  ardent  for  suffrage,  for  anything  which  would 
"emancipate"  women  and  humanity,  that  I  was  eager  to  proclaim 
theories  of  my  own. 

Father  was  still  the  spring  from  which  I  drank,  and  I  sent  long 
letters  home,  getting  in  reply  still  longer  ones,  filled  with  ammuni- 
tion about  the  historical  background  of  the  importance  of  women 
— Helen  of  Troy,  Ruth,  Cleopatra,  Poppaea,  famous  queens,  women 
authors  and  poets. 

When  news  spread  that  I  was  to  present  my  essay,  "Women's 
Rights,"  the  boys,  following  the  male  attitude  which  most  people 
have  forgotten  but  which  every  suffragette  well  remembers,  jeered 
and  drew  cartoons  of  women  wearing  trousers,  stiff  collars,  and 
smoking  huge  cigars.  Undeterred,  I  was  spurred  on  to  think  up  new 
arguments.  I  studied  and  wrote  as  never  before,  stealing  away  to 
the  cemetery  and  standing  on  the  monuments  over  the  graves.  Each 
day  in  the  quiet  of  the  dead  I  repeated  and  repeated  that  speech  out 
loud.  What  an  essay  it  was ! 

"Votes  for  Women"  banners  were  not  yet  flying,  and  this  early 
faint  bleating  of  mine  aroused  little  enthusiasm.  I  turned  then  to  an 
equally  stern  subject.  The  other  students  had  automatically  accepted 


BOOKS   ARE   THE   COMPASSES  39 

the  cause  of  solid  money.  I  espoused  free  silver.  At  Chautauqua  I  had 
heard  echoes  of  those  first  notes  sounded  by  Bryan  for  the  working 
classes.  The  spirit  of  humanitarianism  in  industry  had  been  growing 
and  swelling,  but  it  was  still  deep  buried.  I  believe  any  great  con- 
cept must  be  present  in  the  mass  consciousness  before  any  one  figure 
can  tap  it  and  set  it  free  on  its  irresistible  way. 

I  had  not  seen  the  "Boy  Orator  of  the  Platte,"  but  the  country 
was  ringing  with  his  words,  "You  shall  not  press  down  upon  the 
brow  of  labor  this  crown  of  thorns;  you  shall  not  crucify  mankind 
upon  a  cross  of  gold."  These  rich  and  sonorous  phrases  made  me 
realize  the  importance  of  clothing  ideas  in  fine  language.  Far  more, 
however,  they  struck  a  solemn  chord  within  me.  I,  also,  in  an  ob- 
scure and  unformed  way,  wanted  to  help  grasp  Utopia  from  the 
skies  and  plant  it  on  earth.  But  what  to  do  and  where  to  start  I 
did  not  know. 

Due  to  my  "advanced  ideas,"  for  a  time,  at  least,  I  am  sorry  to 
say,  it  was  chiefly  the  grinds  with  whom  I  "walked  in  Lovers'  Lane," 
nodding  wisely  and  answering  their  earnest  aspirations  with  pro- 
found advice.  But  this  did  not  last.  Soon  I  was  going  through  the 
usual  boy  and  girl  romances ;  each  season  brought  a  new  one.  I  took 
none  of  them  very  seriously,  but  adroitly  combined  flirtatiousness 
with  the  conviction  that  marriage  was  something  towards  which  I 
must  develop.  Therefore  I  turned  the  vague  and  tentative  suggestions 
of  my  juvenile  beaus  by  saying,  "I  would  never  think  of  jumping  into 
marriage  without  definite  preparation  and  study  of  its  responsibili- 
ties." Practically  no  women  then  went  into  professions;  matrimony 
was  the  only  way  out.  It  seems  ages  ago. 

Various  pranks  occurred  at  Claverack,  such  as  taking  walks  with 
boys  out  of  bounds  and  going  forbidden  places  for  tea.  Towards  the 
end  of  my  last  year  I  thought  up  the  idea  that  several  of  us  should 
slip  out  through  the  window  and  down  to  the  village  dance  hall 
where  our  special  admirers  would  meet  us.  About  eleven-thirty,  in 
the  midst  of  the  gayety,  in  walked  our  principal,  Mr.  Flack,  together 
with  the  preceptress  who  had  come  for  the  "ladies."  We  were  all 
marched  back  to  school,  uneasy  but  silent. 

The  next  morning  I  received  a  special  invitation  to  call  at  The 
Office.  I  entered.  Mr.  Flack,  a  small,  slight,  serious,  student  type  of 


40  MARGARET   SANGER 

man,  with  a  large  head  and  high  brow,  was  standing  with  his  back 
to  me.  I  sat  down.  He  gave  me  no  greeting  but  kept  on  at  his  books. 
To  all  appearances  he  did  not  know  I  was  there.  Then,  without  look- 
ing around,  he  said,  "Miss  Higgins,  don't  you  feel  rather  ashamed 
of  yourself  for  getting  those  girls  into  trouble  last  night,  by  taking 
them  out  and  making  them  break  the  rules  ?  They  may  even  have  to 
be  sent  home." 

Although  surprised  that  he  should  have  known  I  was  the  one  re- 
sponsible, I  could  not  deny  it,  but  it  flashed  across  my  mind  at  first 
that  someone  must  have  told  him.  He  went  on  with  rapid  flow, 
almost  as  though  talking  to  himself,  "I've  watched  you  ever  since 
you  came  and  I  don't  need  to  be  told  that  you  must  have  been  the 
ringleader.  Again  and  again  I've  noticed  your  influence  over  others. 
I  want  to  call  your  attention  to  this,  because  I  know  you're  going  to 
use  it  in  the  future.  You  must  make  your  choice — whether  to  get 
yourself  and  others  into  difficulty,  or  else  guide  yourself  and  others 
into  constructive  activities  which  will  do  you  and  them  credit." 

I  do  not  quite  recall  what  else  he  said,  but  I  have  never  forgotten 
going  out  of  his  room  that  day.  This  could  not  exactly  be  called  a 
turning  point  in  my  life^  but  from  then  on  I  realized  more  strongly 
than  before  that  there  was  a  something  within  myself  which  could 
and  should  be  kept  under  my  control  and  direction. 

Long  afterwards  I  wrote  to  thank  Mr.  Flack  for  his  wisdom  in 
offering  guidance  instead  of  harsh  discipline.  He  died  a  few  years 
later,  and  I  was  glad  I  had  been  able  to  place  a  rose  in  his  hand  rather 
than  on  his  grave. 

I  spent  three  happy  years  at  Claverack.  The  following  season  I  de- 
cided to  try  my  hand  at  teaching, A,$hen  a  lady-like  thing  to  do.  A 
position  was  open  to  me  in  the  first  grade  of  a  new  public  school  in 
southern  New  Jersey.  The  majority  of  the  pupils — Poles,  Hun- 
garians, Swedes — coulii  not  speak  English.  In  they  came  regularly. 
I  was  beside  myself  to  know  what  to  do  with  eighty- four  children 
who  could  not  understand  a  word  I  said.  I  loved  those  small,  black- 
haired  and  tow-headed  urchins  who  became  bored  with  sitting  and, 
on  their  own,  began  stunts  to  entertain  themselves.  But  I  was  so  tired 
at  the  end  of  the  day  that  I  often  lay  down  before  dressing  for  dinner 
and  awakened  the  next  morning  barely  in  time  to  start  the  routine. 


BOOKS   ARE   THE   COMPASSES  41 

In  very  short  order  I  became  aware  of  the  fact  that  teaching  was  not 
merely  a  job,  it  was  a  profession,  and  training  was  necessary  if  you 
were  to  do  it  well.  I  was  not  suited  by  temperament,  and  therefore 
had  no  right  to  this  vocation.fi  had  been  struggling  for  only  a  brief 
while  when  father  summoned  me  home  to  nurse  mother. ) 

She  was  weak  and  pale  and  the  high  red  spots  on  her  cheek  bones 
stood  out  startlingly  against  her  white  face.  Although  she  was  now 
spitting  blood  when  she  coughed  we  still  expected  her  to  live  on  for- 
ever. She  had  been  ill  so  long;  this  was  just  another  attack  among 
many.  Father  carried  her  from  room  to  room,  and  tried  desperately 
to  devise  little  comforts.  We  shut  the  doors  and  windows  to  keep  out 
any  breath  of  the  raw  March  air,  and  in  the  stuffy  atmosphere  we 
toiled  over  her  bed. 

(In  an  effort  to  be  more  efficient  in  caring  for  mother  I  tried  to  findv 
out  something  about  consumption  by  borrowing  medical  books  from  \ 
the  library  of  the  local  doctor,  who  was  a  friend  of  the  family,  and  in     \ 
doing  this  became  so  interested  in  medicine  that  I  decided  definitely      I 
I  would  study  to  be  an  M.D.  \Vhen  I  went  back  for  more  volumes    / 
and  announced  my  decision  the  doctor  gave  them  to  me,  but  smiled/ 
tolerantly,  "You'll  probably  get  over  it." 

I  had  been  closely  confined  for  a  long  time  when  I  was  invited  to 
Buffalo  for  the  Easter  holidays  to  meet  again  one  of  the  boys  by 
whom  I  had  been  beaued  at  Claverack.  Mother  insisted  that  I  needed 
a  vacation.  Mary  and  Nan  were  both  there ;  I  could  stay  with  them, 
and  we  planned  a  pleasant  trip  to  Niagara  Falls  for  the  day. 

With  me  out  of  the  way  mother  sent  off  the  little  children  one  by 
one  on  some  pretext  or  another.  She  had  more  difficulty  with  father. 
The  fire  bricks  in  the  stove  had  split  and  she  told  him  he  must  go  to 
town  and  get  new  ones.  Much  against  his  will,  because  he  was  vaguely 
unquiet,  he  started  for  the  foundry.  He  had  left  only  because  mother 
seemed  to  want  it  so  much,  but  when  he  had  walked  a  few  blocks,  he 
found  he  could  not  go  on.  For  some  Celtic  mystic  reason  of  his  own 
he  turned  abruptly  around  and  came  back  to  the  house.  Mother  was 
gasping  in  death.  All  the  family  hated  scenes,  she  most  of  all.  She 
had  known  she  was  to  die  and  wanted  to  be  alone. 

It  was  a  folk  superstition  that  a  consumptive  who  survived  through 
the  month  of  March  would  live  until  November.   .Mother  died  on 


42  MARGARET    SANGER 

the  thirty-first  of  the  month,  leaving  father  desolate  and  inconsol- 
able. I  came  flying  home.  The  house  was  silent  and  he  hardly  spoke. 
Suddenly  the  stillness  of  the  night  was  broken  by  a  wailing  and  Toss 
was  found  with  his  paws  on  the  coffin,  mourning  and  howling — the 
most  poignant  and  agonizing  sound  I  had  ever  heard. 

[I  had  to  take  mother's  place — manage  the  finances,  order  the 
meals,  pay  the  debts.  There  was  nothing  left  for  my  clothing  nor  for 
any  outside  diversions.  All  that  could  be  squeezed  out  by  making 
this  or  that  do  had  to  go  for  shoes  or  necessities  for  the  younger 
brothers.  Mend,  patch,  sew  as  you  would,  there  was  a  limit  to  the 
endurance  of  trousers,  and  new  ones  had  to  be  purchased. 

To  add  to  my  woes,  father  seemed  to  me,  who  was  sensitive  to 
criticism,  suddenly  metamorphosed  from  a  loving,  gentle,  benevolent 
parent  into  a  most  aggravating,  irritating  tyrant ;  nobody  in  any  fairy 
tale  I  had  ever  read  was  quite  so  cruel.  He  who  had  given  us  the 
world  in  which  to  roam  now  apparently  wanted  to  put  us  behind 
prison  bars.  His  unreasonableness  was  not  directed  towards  the  boys, 
who  were  in  bed  as  soon  as  lessons  were  done,  but  towards  his 
daughters,  Ethel  and  me.  Whatever  we  did  was  wrong.  He  objected 
particularly  to  young  men. 

Ethel  was  receiving  the  concentrated  attention  of  Jack  Byrne.  Fa- 
ther in  scolding  her  said  she  should  mix  more.  My  beaus  were  a  little 
older  than  the  ones  I  had  had  at  school,  and  more  earnest  in  their 
intentions.  Though  not  one  really  interested  me — their  conversation 
seemed  flat,  consisting  of  foolish  questions  and  smart,  silly  replies 
— father  scolded  me  also  about  them,  "Why  aren't  you  serious  like 
your  sister?  Can't  you  settle  yourself  to  one?  Do  you  have  to  have 
somebody  different  every  evening?" 

Messages  were  coming  to  me  from  a  young  man  going  West,  post- 
marked Chicago  or  San  Francisco.  These  daily  letters  and  some- 
times telegrams  as  well,  were  not  father's  idea  of  wooing.  What  could 
anyone  have  to  say  every  day?  To  his  way  of  thinking,  a  decent 
man  came  to  the  house  and  did  his  talking  straight;  he  sat  around 
with  the  family  and  got  acquainted.  Father  said,  'That  fellow's  a 
scoundrel.  He's  too  worldly.  He's  not  even  known  in  town." 

We  had  to  ask  permission  whether  Tom  or  Jack  or  Henry  could 
call.  Without  reason  or  explanation  father  said,  "No,"  and  that  was 


BOOKS   ARE   THE   COMPASSES  43 

an  end  to  it.  If  we  went  out,  we  had  to  be  back  at  ten  and  give  an 
account  of  ourselves. 

Then  came  the  climax.  Ethel  and  I  had  gone  to  an  open-air  con- 
cert. On  the  stroke  of  ten  we  were  a  full  block  away  from  home 
running  with  all  our  might.  When  we  arrived,  three  minutes  late, 
the  house  was  in  utter  darkness — not  a  sight  nor  sound  of  a  living 
creature  anywhere.  We  banged  and  knocked.  We  tried  the  front 
door,  the  back,  and  the  side,  then  again  the  front.  It  opened  part 
way;  father  looked  out,  reached  forth  a  hand  and  caught  Ethel's 
arm,  saying,  "This  outrageous  behavior  is  not  your  fault.  Come  in." 
With  that  he  pulled  her  inside,  and  the  door  slammed,  leaving  me  in 
the  dark,  stunned  and  bewildered.  I  did  not  know  this  monster.   - 

Hurt  beyond  words,  I  sat  down  on  the  steps,  worrying  not  only 
about  this  night  but  about  the  next  day  and  the  next,  concerned 
over  the  children  left  at  home  with  this  new  kind  of  father.  I  was 
sure  if  I  waited  long  enough  he  would  come  out  for  me,  but  it  was  a 
chilly  evening  in  October.  I  had  no  wrap,  and  began  to  grow  very 
cold. 

I  walked  away  from  the  house,  trying  to  decide  where  I  should  go 
and  what  I  should  do.  I  could  not  linger  on  the  streets  indefinitely, 
with  the  possibility  of  encountering  some  tipsy  factory  hand  or  drum- 
mer passing  through.  At  first  there  seemed  no  one  to  turn  to.  Finally, 
exhausted  by  stress  of  emotion,  I  went  to  the  home  of  the  girl  who 
had  been  with  us  at  the  concert.  She  had  not  yet  gone  to  bed,  and  her 
mother  welcomed  me  so  hospitably  that  I  shall  be  eternally  grateful. 
The  next  morning  she  lent  me  carfare  to  go  to  Elmira,  where  I  had 
friends  with  whom  I  could  stay. 

Meantime  father  had  found  me  gone.  He  had  dressed  and  tramped 
up  and  down  First  Street,  searching  every  byway,  inquiring  whether 
I  had  been  seen.  When  he  had  returned  at  daybreak  to  find  me  still 
missing  he  had  sent  word  to  Mary,  who  received  his  message  at 
almost  the  same  time  as  one  from  me,  telling  her  not  to  worry ;  I  was 
all  right.  Both  of  them  urged  me  to  come  back  to  Corning,  and  in  a 
few  days  I  did  so,  taking  up  again  my  responsibilities.  Father  and  I 
tried  to  talk  it  over,  but  we  could  not  meet  on  the  old  ground;  be- 
tween us  a  deep  silence  had  fallen. 

Father  had  almost  stopped  expounding;  instead,  he  was  reading 


44  MARGARET   SANGER 

more.  Debs  had  come  on  his  horizon,  and  the  Socialist  papers  crop- 
ping up  all  over  the  country  were  appearing  in  the  house.  From  the 
Free  Library,  which  he  had  helped  to  establish  years  earlier,  he  was 
borrowing  Spencer,  who  was  modern  for  that  time,  and  other  books 
on  sociology. 

I  had  given  up  encouraging  young  men  to  see  me,  but  I,  too,  was 
patronizing  the  library.  My  books  were  fiction.  "All  nonsense,"  fa- 
ther snorted  at  the  mention  of  such  titles  as  Graustark,  Prisoners  of 
Hope,  or  Three  Musketeers.  The  word  "novel"  was  still  shocking 
to  many  people,  and  he  classed  them  all  as  "love  stories."  "Read 
to  cultivate  and  uplift  your  mind.  Read  what  will  benefit  you  in  the 
battle  of  life,"  he  admonished.  But  I  continued  my  escape  from  the 
daily  humdrum  to  revel  in  romances,  devouring  them  in  the  evenings 
and  hiding  them  under  the  mattress  during  the  day. 

One  noon  when  I  was  waiting  for  the  children  to  come  in  to 
lunch  I  was  buried  in  David  Harum,  finding  it  very  funny,  and  did 
not  hear  father  enter.  He  stood  ominously  in  the  doorway.  I  should 
have  felt  trapped,  but,  instead,  without  warning  and  without  reason, 
the  old  love  flamed  up  again.  I  laughed  and  laughed.  I  was  no  longer 
afraid  nor  did  I  care  for  his  scowls  or  his  silly  old  notions.  The 
long  silence  was  broken. 

"Do  listen  to  this."  And  I  started  reading.  The  frown  began  to 
melt  away  and  soon  father  too  was  chuckling.  This  was  the  first 
laughter  that  had  been  heard  in  that  dreary  household  since  mother's 
death.  The  book  disappeared  into  his  room,  and  soon  thereafter  he 
was  caught  seeking  more  of  "that  nonsense." 

At  last  I  realized  why  father  had  been  so  different.  He  had  been 
lonely  for  mother,  lonely  for  her  love,  and  doubtless  missed  her 
ready  appreciation  of  his  own  longings  and  misgivings.  Then,  too, 
he  had  always  before  depended  on  her  to  understand  and  direct  us. 
He  was  probably  a  trifle  jealous,  though  not  consciously,  because  he 
considered  jealousy  an  animal  trait  far  beneath  him,  and  refused  to 
recognize  it  in  himself.  Nevertheless,  beaus  had  been  sidetracking 
the  affections  of  his  little  girls.  So  oppressed  had  he  been  by  his  sense 
of  responsibility  that  he  had  slipped  in  judgment  and  in  so  doing 
slid  into  the  small-town  rut  of  propriety.   His  belated  discipline, 


BOOKS    ARE    THE    COMPASSES  45 

caused  by  worry  and  anxiety,  was  merely  an  attempt  to  guide  his 
children. 

I,  however,  considered  the  time  had  passed  for  such  guidance.  I 
had  to  step  forth  by  myself  along  the  experimental  path  of  adult- 
hood. Though  the  immediate  occasion  for  reading  medical  books  had 
ceased  with  mother's  death,  I  had  never,  during  these  months,  lost 
my  deep  conviction  that  perhaps  she  might  have  been  saved  had  I  had 
sufficient  knowledge  of  medicine.  This  was  linked  up  with  my  latent 
desire  to  be  of  service  in  the  world.  The  career  of  a  physician  seemed 
to  fulfill  all  my  requirements.,  I  could  not  at  the  moment  see  how  the 
gap  in  education  from  Claverack  to  medical  school  was  to  be  bridged. 
Nevertheless,  I  could  at  least  make  a  start  with  nursing,  j 
j  But  father,  though  he  proclaimed  his  belief  in  perfect  independ- 
ence of  thought  and  mind,  could  not  approve  nursing  as  a  profession, 
even  when  I  told  him  that  some  of  the  nicest  girls  were  going  into 
it.  "Well,  they  won't  be  nice  long,"  he  growled. .  Tt's  no  sort  of  work 
for  girls  to  be  doing."  .My  argument  that  he  himself  had  taught  us 
to  help  other  people  had  no  effect. 

Father's  notions,  however,  were  not  going  to  divert  me  from  my 
intention;  no  matter  how  peaceful  the  home  atmosphere  had  be- 
come, still  I  had  to  get  out  and  try  my  wings.  For  six  months  more 
we  jogged  along,  then,  just  a  year  after  mother  had  died,  Esther 
asked  me  to  visit  her  in  New  York.  I  really  wanted  to  train  in  the 
city,  but  her  mother  knew  someone  on  the  board  of  the  White  Plains 
Hospital,  which  was  just  initiating  a  school.  There  I  was  accepted  as 
a  probationer. 


Chapter  Four 


DARKNESS  THERE  AND  NOTHING  MORE 


THE  old  White  Plains  Hospital,  not  at  all  like  a  modern  insti- 
tution, had  been  a  three-storied  manor  house,  long  deserted 
because  two  people  had  once  been  found  mysteriously  dead  in  it 
and  thereafter  nobody  would  rent  or  buy.  The  hospital  board,  scoff- 
ing at  superstition,  had  gladly  purchased  it  at  the  low  price  to  which 
it  had  been  reduced.  However,  in  spite  of  rearrangements  and  re- 
decorating, many  people  in  White  Plains  went  all  the  way  to  the 
Tarrytown  Hospital  rather  than  enter  the  haunted  portals. 

Once  set  in  spacious  grounds  the  building  was  still  far  back  from 
the  road ;  a  high  wall  immediately  behind  it  shut  off  the  view  of  the 
next  street  and  nothing  could  be  seen  beyond  except  the  roof  of  what 
had  been  the  stable.  The  surrounding  tall  trees  made  it  shadowy  even 
in  the  daytime.  To  reach  the  office  you  had  to  cross  a  broad  pillared 
veranda.  Parlor  and  sitting  room  had  been  thrown  together  for  the 
male  ward,  and  an  operating  room  had  been  tacked  on  to  the  rear. 
The  great  wide  stairway  of  fumed  oak,  lighted  at  night  by  low- 
turned  gas  jets,  swept  up  through  the  lofty  ceiling.  On  the  second 
floor  were  the  female  ward  and  a  few  private  rooms.  The  dozen  or 
so  nurses  slept  in  the  made-over  servants'  quarters  under  the  gam- 
brel  roof. 

Student  nurses  in  large  modern  hospitals  have  little  idea  what  our 
life  was  like  in  a  small  one  thirty-five  years  ago.  The  single  bath- 
room on  each  floor  was  way  at  the  back.^  We  did  not  have  a  resident 

46 


DARKNESS   THERE   AND    NOTHING   MORE  47 

interne,  and,  consequently,  had  to  depend  mainly  upon  our  own 
judgment.  Since  we  had  no  electricity,  we  could  not  ring  a  bell  and 
have  our  needs  supplied,  and  had  to  use  our  legs  for  elevators.  A  pro- 
bationer had  to  learn  to  make  dressings,  bandages,  mix  solutions, 
and  toil  over  sterilizing.  She  put  two  inches  of  water  in  the  wash- 
boiler,  laid  a  board  across  the  bricks  placed  in  the  bottom,  and  bal- 
anced the  laundered  linen  and  gauze  on  top.  Then,  clapping  on  the 
lid,  she  set  the  water  to  boiling  briskly,  watched  the  clock,  and  when 
the  prescribed  number  of  minutes  had  elapsed  the  sterilizing  was 
over. 

The  great  self-confidence  with  which  I  entered  upon  my  duties 
soon  received  a  slight  shock.  One  of  our  cases  was  an  old  man  from 
the  County  Home.  He  complained  chiefly  of  pains  in  his  leg  and, 
since  his  condition  was  not  very  serious,  the  superintendent  of  nurses 
left  him  one  afternoon  in  my  care.  This  was  my  first  patient.  When 
I  heard  the  clapper  of  his  little  nickeled  bell,  I  hurried  with  a  pro- 
fessional air  to  his  bedside. 

"Missy,  will  you  please  bandage  up  my  sore  leg?  It  does  me  so 
much  good." 

Having  just  had  my  initial  lesson  in  bandaging,  I  was  elated  at 
this  opportunity  to  try  my  skill...  I  set  to  work  with  great  precision, 
and,  when  I  had  finished,  congratulated  myself  on  a  neat  job,  ad- 
miring the  smooth  white  leg.  My  first  entry  went  on  his  record  sheet. 

A  little  later  the  superintendent,  in  making  her  rounds,  regarded 
the  old  man  perplexedly. 

"Why  have  you  got  your  leg  bandaged?" 

"I  asked  the  nurse  to  do  it  for  me." 

"Why  that  leg?  It's  the  other  one  that  hurts."  . 

"Oh,  she  was  so  kind  I  didn't  want  to  stop  her." 

I  bowed  my  head  in  embarrassment,  but  I  was  young  and  eager, 
and  it  did  not  stay  bowed  long. 

Within  a  short  period  I  considered  myself  thoroughly  inured  to 
what  many  look  upon  as  the  unpleasant  aspects  of  nursing ;  the  sight 
of  blood  never  made  me  squeamish  and  I  had  watched  operations, 
even  on  the  brain,  with  none  of  the  usual  sick  giddiness.  Then 
one  day  the  driver  of  a  Macy  delivery  wagon,  who  had  fallen  off  the 
seat,  was  brought  in  with  a  split  nose.  I  was  holding  the  basin  for 


48  MARGARET    SANGER 

the  young  doctor  who  was  stitching  it  up,  when  one  of  the  other 
nurses  said  something  to  tease  him.  He  dropped  his  work,  leaving 
the  needle  and  cat-gut  thread  sticking  across  the  patient's  nose,  and 
chased  her  out  of  the  room  and  down  the  hall.  The  patient,  painless 
under  a  local  anesthetic,  gazed  mildly  after  them;  but  the  idea 
that  doctor  and  nurse  could  be  so  callous  as  to  play  jokes  horri- 
fied me.\ 

When  pursuer  and  pursued  returned  they  found  me  in  a  heap  on 
the  floor,  the  basin  tipped  over  beside  me,  instruments  and  sponges 
scattered  everywhere.  The  patient  was  still  sitting  quietly  waiting 
for  all  the  foolishness  to  stop.  I  am  glad  to  say  this  was  the  one  and 
only  time  I  ever  fainted  on  duty. 

The  training,  rigid  though  it  was,  would  have  been  far  less  diffi- 
cult had  it  not  been  for  the  truly  diabolical  head  nurse.  In  the  morn- 
ing she  was  all  smiles,  so  saintly  that  you  could  almost  glimpse  the 
halo  around  her  head.  But  as  the  day  wore  on  the  demon  in  her  ap- 
peared. She  could  always  think  up  extra  things  for  you  to  do  to  keep 
you  from  your  regular  afternoon  two  hours  off.  This  was  particu- 
larly hard  on  me  because  I  had  developed  tubercular  glands  and  was 
running  a  temperature.  In  my  second  year  I  was  operated  on,  and 
two  weeks  later  assigned  to  night  duty,  where  I  stayed  for  three 
awful  months. 

My  worst  tribulation  came  during  this  period.  People  then  seldom 
went  to  hospitals  with  minor  ailments ;  our  patients  were  commonly 
the  very  sick,  requiring  a  maximum  of  attention.  There  was  no  or- 
derly and  I  could  use  only  my  left  hand  because  my  right  shoulder 
was  still  bandaged.  I  took  care  of  admissions,  entered  case  histories, 
and,  when  sharp  bells  punctuated  the  waiting  stillness,  sometimes  one 
coming  before  I  had  time  to  answer  the  first,  I  pattered  hurriedly  up 
and  down  the  three  flights,  through  the  shadows  relieved  only  by  the 
faint  red  glow  from  the  gas  jets.  I  suppose  adventures  were  inevita- 
ble. 

One  night  an  Italian  was  picked  up  on  the  street  in  a  state  of 
almost  complete  exhaustion,  and  brought  to  the  hospital.  He  was  so 
ill  with  suspected  typhoid  that  he  should  have  had  a  "special,"  but  in- 
stead he  was  placed  in  the  ward.  An  old  leather  couch  stood  across 
the  windows,  and  whenever  a  pause  came  in  my  duties  I  lay  down. 


DARKNESS   THERE   AND    NOTHING   MORE  49 

From  there  I  could  keep  an  eye  on  my  new  patient.  Sick  as  he  was 
he  insisted  on  making  the  long  trip  through  the  ward  to  the  bath- 
room. I  could  not  explain  how  unwise  this  was,  because  he  could 
not  understand  a  word  of  English.  He  must  have  reeled  out  of  his 
bed  between  thirty  and  forty  times. 

Just  as  the  early  spring  dawn  came  creeping  in  the  window  be- 
hind me  I  grew  drowsy.  I  was  on  the  point  of  dozing  off  when 
some  premonition  warned  me  and  I  opened  my  eyelids  enough  to  see 
the  man  reach  under  his  pillow,  take  something  out  cautiously,  glide 
from  his  bed.  Spellbound  I  watched  him  slithering  soft-footedly  as 
he  edged  his  way  towards  me.  I  seemed  to  be  hypnotized  with  sleep 
and  could  not  stir.  He  came  nearer  and  nearer  with  eyes  fixed,  hands 
behind  him.  Suddenly  I  snapped  into  duty,  arose  quickly,  ordered 
him  back  to  bed,  and  ran  ahead  to  straighten  his  sheets  and  pillows, 
not  realizing  my  danger  until  he  loomed  over  me,  his  knife  in  his 
hand.  Before  he  could  thrust  I  grabbed  his  arm  and  held  it.  Though 
I  was  small-boned  I  had  good  muscles,  and  he  was  very  ill. 

Meanwhile,  another  patient  snatched  up  his  bell  and  rang,  and  rang 
and  rang.  Nobody  answered.  The  nurses  were  too  far  away  to  hear ; 
the  other  patients  in  the  ward  were  unable  to  help  me.  But  the  man 
quickly  used  up  what  little  energy  he  had,  and  I  was  able  to  get  the 
knife  from  him,  push  him  back  in  bed,  and  take  his  temperature.  I  as- 
sumed he  had  suddenly  become  delirious. 

About  seven  o'clock  I  answered  a  summons  to  the  front  door  and 
found  three  policemen  who  wanted  to  know  whether  we  had  an 
Italian  patient.  "Indeed  we  have,"  I  answered  feelingly  and  called 
the  superintendent. 

When  the  red  tape  was  unwound,  I  learned  that  my  Italian  be- 
longed to  a  gang  which  had  been  hiding  in  a  cave  between  Tarry- 
town  and  White  Plains,  holding  up  passers-by.  Amongst  them  they 
had  committed  five  murders.  The  others  had  all  been  hunted  down, 
but  this  man's  collapse  had  temporarily  covered  his  whereabouts.  The 
attack  on  me  had  apparently  been  merely  incidental  to  his  attempt  at 
escape  through  the  open  window  behind  me.  He  was  carried  off  to 
the  County  Hospital  Jail,  and  I  was  not  sorry  to  see  him  go. 

After  this  incident  an  orderly  was  employed  and,  though  he  was 
allowed  to  sleep  at  night,  it  was  reassuring  to  know  he  could  be  called 


5<D  MARGARET   SANGER 

in  an  emergency.  The  emergency  soon  arose.  A  young  man  of  about 
twenty-five,  of  well-to-do  parents,  was  admitted  as  an  alcoholic.  I  re- 
member that  I  was  impressed  by  the  softness  of  his  handshake  when 
I  greeted  him.  He  had  the  first  symptoms  of  delirium  tremens  but  he 
was  now  perfectly  conscious  and  needed  no  more  than  routine  at- 
tention. 

Sometime  in  the  night  the  new  arrival  asked  me  to  get  him  a  drink 
of  water.  When  I  came  back  into  the  room  and  offered  it  to  him  he 
knocked  me  into  the  corner  ten  feet  away.  As  my  head  banged 
against  the  wall,  he  leaped  out  of  bed  after  me  and  reached  down  for 
my  throat.  Though  half -stunned  and  off  my  feet,  I  yet  had  more 
strength  than  the  man  whose  flabby  muscles  refused  to  obey  his  will. 
The  patient  in  the  adjoining  bed  rang  and  in  a  few  moments  the 
orderly  came  to  my  assistance.  Between  us  we  got  the  poor  crazed 
youth  into  a  strait  jacket.  The  doctor  who  was  summoned  could  do 
nothing  and  in  the  morning  the  young  man  mercifully  died. 

To  differentiate  between  things  real  and  things  imaginary  was  not 
always  easy  at  nighttime.  One  morning  about  two  o'clock  I  was 
writing  my  case  histories  in  the  reception  office  on  the  ground  floor 
just  off  the  veranda.  Both  window  and  curtain  behind  my  back  were 
up  about  ten  inches  to  let  in  the  cool,  moist  air.  Abruptly  I  had  a  feel- 
ing that  eyes  were  staring  at  me.  I  could  not  have  explained  why ;  I 
had  heard  no  sound,  but  I  was  certain  some  human  being  was  some- 
where about.  Anybody  who  had  come  on  legitimate  business  would 
have  spoken.  Perhaps  it  was  another  patient  with  a  knife.  Should  I 
sit  still  ?  Should  I  look  behind  me  ? 

I  turned  my  head  to  the  window,  and  there  an  ugly,  grinning  face 
with  a  spreading,  black  mustache  was  peering  in  at  me.  It  might 
have  been  disembodied;  all  I  could  see  was  this  extraordinary  face, 
white  against  the  inky  background.  It  was  not  a  patient,  not  anyone 
in  my  charge.  Relief  was  immediate  and  action  automatic.  I  seized 
the  long  window  pole,  twice  as  tall  as  I,  dashed  to  the  outer  door,  and 
shooed  him  off  the  veranda.  He  ran  for  the  outer  gate  while  I  bran- 
dished my  weapon  after  him. 

Such  instantaneous  responses  must  have  been  the  result  of  having 
in  childhood  sent  fears  about  their  business  before  they  could  gather 
momentum.  Now  I  could  usually  act  without  having  to  think  very 


DARKNESS   THERE   AND    NOTHING   MORE  5 1 

much  about  them  or  be  troubled  in  retrospect.  They  were  all  in  the 
day's  work  of  the  night  nurse. 

Probably  the  fact  that  I  was  low  in  vitality  made  me  more  sus- 
ceptible to  mental  than  physical  influences.  Realistic  doctors  and  stern 
head  nurses  tried  to  keep  tales  of  the  old  house  from  the  probation- 
ers, but  not  very  successfully.  When  the  colored  patients  could  not 
sleep  they  used  to  tell  us  weird  stories,  and  with  rolling  eyes  solemnly 
affirmed  they  were  true.  One  old  darky  woman,  hearing  the  hoot  owls 
begin  their  mournful  "too-whoo,  too-whoo,"  would  sit  straight  up 
in  her  bed  and  whisper,  "Suppose  dat  callin'  me?  Hit's  callin'  some- 
one in  dis  hospital." 

Again  and  again  after  the  owls'  hooting  either  somebody  in  the 
hospital  died,  or  was  brought  in  to  die  from  an  accident.  Reason  told 
me  this  was  pure  coincidence,  but  it  began  to  get  on  my  nerves. 

And  then  stranger  events,  for  which  I  could  find  no  explanation, 
followed.  Once  when  I  was  making  my  rounds  a  little  after  midnight, 
I  turned  into  the  room  occupied  by  the  tubercular  valet  of  a  member 
of  the  Iselin  family.  I  had  expected  him  to  be  sleeping  quietly  be- 
cause he  was  merely  there  to  rest  up  before  being  sent  back  home  to 
England,  but  he  was  awake  and  asked  for  ice.  I  started  for  the  re- 
frigerator, which  was  two  flights  down  in  the  cellar.  But  at  the  top 
of  the  stairs  I  suddenly  stopped  short — "One — Two — Three!"  I 
heard  dull,  distinct  knocks  directly  under  the  stairway. 

Not  one,  single,  tangible  thing  near  by  could  have  made  those 
sounds.  In  the  space  of  a  few  seconds  I  took  an  inventory  of  the  im- 
portance of  my  life  as  compared  to  the  proper  care  of  my  patient.  I  had 
to  walk  deliberately  down  those  steps,  not  knowing  what  might  be 
lying  in  wait  for  me  below.  As  I  stepped  on  the  first  tread  the  same 
knocks  came  again — "One — Two — Three!" 

I  tried  to  hurry  but  it  seemed  to  me  that  each  foot  had  tons  of 
iron  attached  to  it.  The  little  red  devils  of  night  lights  blinked  at  me 
and  seemed  to  make  the  shadows  thicker  in  the  corners.  But  nothing 
clutched  me  from  the  dim  and  ghostly  hall.  I  got  down  those  steps 
somehow  and  passed  through  the  dining  room  into  the  kitchen.  There 
I  paused  again.  Should  I  take  a  butcher  knife  with  me?  "No,  I  won't 
do  that,"  I  answered  myself  resolutely,  and  started  for  the  cellar 
stairs. 


52  MARGARET   SANGER 

For  the  third  time  came  the  knocking.  Glancing  to  right  and  left, 
my  back  against  the  dark,  I  crept  down,  reached  the  refrigerator, 
broke  off  some  chunks  of  ice  with  trembling  hands,  put  them  in  a 
bowl,  steeled  myself  while  I  chopped  them  into  still  finer  pieces,  and 
set  out  on  the  return,  my  feet  much  lighter  going  up  than  down. 

I  had  been  away  only  a  brief  while  altogether,  but  the  patient,  for 
no  apparent  cause,  had  had  a  hemorrhage,  and  died  in  a  few  minutes. 

Many  times  after  that  I  heard  these  nocturnal  sounds,  usually 
overhead.  They  began  to  seem  more  like  footsteps — "tap,  tap,  tap, 
tap," — very  quick  and  a  bit  muffled.  Soon  I  was  not  sleeping  well  in 
the  daytime. 

One  morning  I  asked  at  breakfast  table,  "Who  was  walking  around 
last  night?" 

"I  wasn't."  "Not  I."  "Certainly  not  me,"  came  a  chorus.  "What 
makes  you  think  someone  was  up?" 

"I  distinctly  heard  footsteps  the  full  length  of  the  third  floor." 

"What  time?" 

"Around  four  o'clock." 

But  nobody  admitted  to  having  been  up.  "Then  one  of  you  must 
have  been  walking  in  your  sleep,"  I  insisted. 

The  nurse  who  had  preceded  me  on  night  duty  timidly  contributed, 
"I  always  heard  somebody.  I  didn't  want  to  say  anything  about  it 
for  fear  you'd  think  I  was  queer." 

Towards  morning  of  the  very  next  night  when  I  was  in  the  sec- 
ond floor  ward,  I  heard  the  patter  again  above  my  head.  I  ran  up- 
stairs to  the  nurses'  quarters  as  fast  as  I  could  and  looked  down  the 
corridor.  Every  door  was  tight  shut.  I  tore  down  two  flights  to  the 
first  floor.  The  noise  came  once  more  above  me.  Back  to  the  second 
floor.  All  patients  were  in  their  beds.  I  asked  the  only  wakeful  one, 
"Did  you  get  up  just  now  ?" 

"No." 

"Did  anybody  else  get  up?" 

"No." 

Some  nights  went  by  quietly.  But  I  heard  the  noises  often  enough 
to  become  truly  concerned  for  fear  I  might  be  imagining  things.  I 
said  to  one  of  the  older  nurses,  "I'm  going  to  wake  you  up  and  see 
whether  you  hear  them  too." 


DARKNESS   THERE   AND    NOTHING   MORE  53 

"I'll  sit  up  with  you,"  she  offered. 

"No,  I'll  call  you.  They  never  come  until  almost  morning." 

The  next  time,  at  the  first  tap,  I  hurried  to  her  room,  shook  her 
awake,  led  her  to  the  floor  below,  "There,  do  you  hear  it?" 

Her  expression  was  confirmation  enough. 

Leaving  her  I  raced  down  another  flight,  and  waited.  In  a  mo- 
ment the  "Tap,  tap,  tap,  tap"  came  again  from  overhead.  Up  I  went. 
She  said  she  had  heard  it  all  right  but  it  had  come  from  over  her 
head.  At  least  my  senses  were  not  playing  me  tricks.  My  accounts 
were  given  greater  credence,  and  other  nurses  sometimes  interrupted 
their  slumbers  to  listen. 

One  of  my  companions  told  a  young  and  intelligent  doctor  on  the 
staff  that  I  had  better  be  taken  off  night  duty  before  I  had  a  nervous 
breakdown.  Though  he  thought  this  was  girlish  nonsense,  he  could 
see  I  was  being  seriously  affected,  and  anyhow  the  strain  of  three 
continuous  months  at  such  a  hard  task  was  far  too  much.  Another 
nurse  relieved  me. 

After  my  second  glandular  operation  I  was  placed  in  one  of  the 
private  rooms  on  the  upper  floor.  I  had  not  come  through  very  well, 
and  this  same  doctor  remained  in  the  hospital  all  night  to  be  on  call. 
Being  restless,  I  woke  up,  only  to  hear  the  identical  noises  which  had 
haunted  me  for  so  long.  I  called  him  and  exclaimed,  "There  it  is. 
Don't  you  hear  it?" 

He  did,  but  confidently  he  strode  upstairs  to  the  nurses'  floor.  I 
knew  he  would  find  nothing.  When  he  came  back,  I  asked,  "Did  you 
see  anyone?" 

"No.  Apparently  everybody  was  asleep.  I  looked  in  all  the  rooms." 

Immediately  the  raps  came  again.  He  moved  a  little  faster  to  get 
downstairs.  In  a  few  minutes  he  put  his  head  back  in  the  door. 
"You're  in  bed?  You  haven't  been  up?"  I  assured  him  I  had  not 
moved,  knowing  well  he  must  have  heard  them  as  always  I  had, 
from  above. 

Though  still  believing  somebody  was  walking  around  the  place, 
the  doctor  by  this  time  was  determined  to  get  to  the  bottom  of  the 
mystery,  and  returned  every  night  for  a  week.  But  the  sound  was  a 
will-o'-the-wisp.  He  never  could  catch  up  with  it.  He  was  so  eager 
to  exhaust  every  possibility  that  he  even  brought  the  matter  be- 


54  MARGARET    SANGER 

fore  the  board.  One  of  them  patronizingly  explained  that  it  was 
probably  the  echo  from  some  rat  in  the  walls ;  they  were  in  the  habit 
of  dismissing  thus  lightly  the  superstitions  which  clung  about  the  old 
house. 

The  doctor  continued  his  detective  work  until  one  day  he  appeared 
in  great  good  humor.  From  the  rear  windows  he  pointed  to  the  roof 
which  rose  beyond  the  high  back  wall.  "I've  found  it.  That  stable  is 
built  on  the  same  timbers  as  this  house.  When  some  horse  grows 
restless  towards  morning  he  stamps  and  the  vibration  is  carried 
through  them  underground  to  this  building.  Now  do  you  believe  in 
ghosts  ?" 

Life  was  by  no  means  so  serious  as  all  this  sounds.  Amelia  had 
followed  me  into  the  hospital  and  we  continued  our  gay  times  to- 
gether. For  that  matter  nursing  itself  often  presented  amusing  as- 
pects. The  supply  of  registered  nurses  was  very  small,  and  in  our  last 
year  of  training  we  were  sent  out  on  private  cases,  thus  seeing  both 
the  highlights  and  lowlights  of  life,  which  prepared  us  well  in  ex- 
perience. 

One  which  had  romantic  overtones  took  place  immediately  after 
Howard  Willett  had  transferred  his  house-party  from  Aiken,  South 
Carolina,  to  Gedney  Farms  Manor  in  White  Plains.  The  indisposition 
of  young  Eugene  Sugney  Reynal  was  pronounced  scarlet  fever.  The 
contagion  began  spreading  among  the  guests  and  servants,  and  Dr. 
Julius  Schmid,  old  and  honored,  a  noteworthy  figure  in  the  com- 
munity and  also  our  chief  of  staff,  detailed  three  of  us  nurses  for 
service  there,  practically  turning  the  place  into  a  hospital  for  five 
weeks. 

My  special  charge  was  Adelaide  Fitzgerald,  Reynal's  fiancee,  but 
as  necessity  arose  we  shifted  around.  Reynal's  condition  grew  stead- 
ily worse.  One  morning  at  daybreak  when  the  patient  was  almost  in 
a  coma  Dr.  Schmid  sent  for  the  priest  to  administer  extreme  unc- 
tion, and  said  to  me,  "You'd  better  get  Miss  Fitzgerald  and  tell  her 
there's  very  little  hope." 

She  knelt  by  his  bed,  "Gene,"  she  called  to  him,  "Gene,  we're  going 
to  be  married — right  now." 

Reynal  was  as  near  death  as  a  man  could  be,  but  her  voice  reached 
into  his  subconscious  and  summoned  him  back.  Another  nurse  and  I, 


DARKNESS   THERE   AND    NOTHING    MORE  55 

hastily  called  upon  to  act  as  bridesmaids,  stood  in  starched  and  rus- 
tling white  beside  the  bed.  It  was  extraordinary  to  watch;  Reynal 
seemed  to  shake  himself  alive  until  he  was  conscious  enough  to  re- 
spond "I  do"  to  the  priest  who  had  arrived  to  perform  quite  a  differ- 
ent office. 

As  an  anti-climax  to  all  the  excitement,  and  to  my  intense  disgust, 
j  I  myself  came  down  with  a  mild  attack  of  scarlet  fever.  I  was  so  em- 
barrassed that  I  went  right  on  working  and  did  not  take  to  my  bed 
until  I  actually  began  to  peel. 

My  usual  cases  offered  drama  of  another  sorts  Often  I  was  called 
in  the  middle  of  the  night  on  a  maternity  case,  perhaps  ten  miles 
away  from  the  hospital,  vwhere  I  had  to  sterilize  the  water  and  boil 
the  forceps  over  a  wood  fire  in  the  kitchen  stove  while  the  doctor 
scrubbed  up  as  best  he  could. ,  Many  times  labor  terminated  before 
he  could  arrive  and  I  had  to  perform  the  delivery  by  myself. 

To  see  a  baby  born  is  one  of  the  greatest  experiences  that  a  human  \ 
being  can  have.j  Birth  to  me  has  always  been  more  awe-inspiring  than 
death.  As  often  as  I  have  witnessed  the  miracle,  held  the  perfect  crea-     I 
ture  with  its  tiny  hands  and  tiny  feet,  each  time  I  have  felt  as  though  / 
I  were  entering  a  cathedral  with  prayer  in  my  heart. 

There  is  so  little  knowledge  in  the  world  compared  with  what  there 
is  to  know.  Always  I  was  deeply  affected  by  the  trust  patients,  rich 
or  poor,  male  or  female,  old  or  young,  placed  in  their  nurses.  When 
'  we  appeared  they  seemed  to  say,  "Ah,  here  is  someone  who  can  tell 
us."  Mothers  asked  me  pathetically,  plaintively,  hopefully,  "Miss 
Higgins,  what  should  I  do  not  to  have  another  baby  right  away?"  I 
was  at  a  loss  to  answer  their  intimate  questions,  and  passed  them 
along  to  the  doctor,  who  more  often  than  not  snorted,  "She  ought  to 
be  ashamed  of  herself  to  talk  to  a  young  girl  about  things  like  that." 

All  such  problems  were  thus  summarily  shoved  aside.  We  had  one 
woman  in  our  hospital  who  had  had  several  miscarriages  and  six 
babies,  each  by  a  different  father.  Doctors  and  nurses  knew  every 
time  she  went  out  that  she  would  soon  be  back  again,  but  it  was  not 
their  business  or  anybody's  business;  it  was  just  "natural."  \ 

1  To  be  polished  off  neatly,  the  nurses  in  training  were  assigned  to 
one  of  the  larger  city  hospitals  in  which  to  work  during  the  last  three 
or  six  months  of  our  course.  Mine  was  the  Manhattan  Eye  and  Ear 


56  MARGARET   SANGER 

at  Forty-first  Street  and  Park  Avenue,  across  the  street  from  the 
Murray  Hill  Hotel,  and  I  welcomed  the  chance  to  see  up-to-date  equip- 
ment and  clockwork  discipline.  My  new  environment  was  considerably 
less  harsh  and  intense,  more  comfortable  and  leisurely. 

At  one  of  the  frequent  informal  dances  held  there  my  doctor  part- 
ner received  a  message — not  a  call,  but  a  caller.  His  architect  wanted 
to  go  over  blueprints  with  him.  "Come  along,"  he  invited.  "See 
whether  you  think  my  new  house  is  going  to  be  as  fine  as  I  do." 

The  architect  was  introduced.  "This  is  William  Sanger." 

The  three  of  us  bent  over  the  plans.  The  doctor  was  the  only  one 
unaware  of  the  sudden  electric  quality  of  the  atmosphere. 

At  seven-thirty  the  next  morning  when  I  went  out  for  my  usual 
"constitutional,"  Bill  Sanger  was  on  the  doorstep.  He  had  that  type 
of  romantic  nature  which  appealed  to  me,  and  had  been  waiting 
there  all  night.  We  took  our  walk  together  that  day  and  regularly 
for  many  days  thereafter,  learning  about  each  other,  exploring  each 
other's  minds,  and  discovering  a  community  of  ideas  and  ideals.  His 
fineness  fitted  in  with  my  whole  destiny,  if  I  can  call  it  such,  just  as 
definitely  as  my  hospital  training. 

I  found  Bill's  mother  a  lovely  person — artistic,  musical,  and  highly 
cultured.  His  father  had  been  a  wealthy  sheep  rancher  in  Australia. 
When  you  travel  anywhere  from  there,  you  practically  have  to  go 
round  the  world,  and  on  his  way  to  San  Francisco  he  had  passed 
through  Central  Europe.  In  a  German  town  he  had  fallen  in  love 
with  the  Mayor's  youngest  daughter,  then  only  fourteen.  When  she 
was  of  marriageable  age  he  had  returned  for  her,  and  it  was  from 
this  talented  mother  that  Bill  had  derived  his  fondness  for  music  and 
desire  to  paint. 

(Bill  was  an  architect  only  by  prof ession  ;\he  was  pure  artist  by 
temperament.  Although  his  heart  was  not  in  mechanical  drawing,  he 
did  it  well.  Stanford  White  once  told  me  he  was  one  of  the  six  best 
draftsmen  in  New  York.  He  confided  to  me  his  dream  of  eventually 
being  able  to  leave  architecture  behind  and  devote  himself  to  painting, 
particularly  murals.  I  had  had  instilled  in  me  a  feeling  for  the  natural 
relationship  between  color  and  symmetry  of  line,  and  sympathized 
not  merely  with  his  aspirations  but  was  intensely  proud  of  his  work. 
Some  day  we  were  going  to  be  married,  and  as  soon  as  we  had  saved 


DARKNESS    THERE   AND    NOTUING    MORE  57 

enough  we  would  go  to  Paris,  whither  the  inspiration  of  the  great 
French  painters  was  summoning  artists  from  all  over  the  world. 

These  plans  were  nebulous  and  had  nothing  to  do  with  my  abrupt 
departure  from  New  York.  One  afternoon,  about  four  o'clock,  I  was 
standing  under  a  skylight  putting  drops  in  the  eyes  of  a  convalescent 
patient.  Unexpectedly,  inexplicably,  the  glass  began  to  fall  apart. 
Almost  by  instinct  I  pulled  my  patient  under  the  lintel  of  the  door. 
A  great  blast  followed  and  pandemonium  was  let  loose;  the  ruined 
skylight  went  crashing  down  the  stairs,  plaster  and  radiators  tum- 
bled from  the  walls,  doors  fell  out,  windows  cracked. 

I  rushed  to  the  bed  of  the  man  who  needed  my  first  attention.  He 
had  been  operated  on  for  a  cataract  only  a  few  hours  previously  and 
my  orders  had  been  not  to  let  him  move  too  soon  lest  the  fluid  in  his 
eye  run  out  and  damage  his  sight  permanently.  But  he  with  the 
other  terrified  patients  was  already  on  his  feet. 

Rounding  up  all  those  under  my  care  and  checking  their  names 
took  several  minutes,  and  while  I  was  still  trying  to  quiet  them,  am- 
bulances from  other  hospitals  came  clanging  up.  By  the  time  I  had 
ushered  my  charges  down  to  the  ground  floor,  a  way  had  been  cleared 
through  the  debris  of  fallen  brick  and  wood.  Since  mine  were  not 
stretcher  cases  I  was  able  to  crowd  ten  of  them  into  one  ambulance, 
and  we  were  taken  to  the  New  York  Hospital.  Not  until  I  had  them 
all  safely  installed  did  I  learn  what  had  happened  to  our  building.  A 
tremendous  explosion  in  the  new  Park  Avenue  subway  had  prac- 
tically demolished  it,  and  it  had  to  be  evacuated. 

I  returned  to  White  Plains,  where  Bill  came  up  frequently  to  see 
me.  On  one  of  our  rambles  he  idly  pulled  at  some  vines  on  a  stone 
wall,  and  then,  with  his  hands,  tilted  my  face  for  a  kiss.  The  next 
morning,  to  my  mortification,  four  telltale  finger  marks  were  out- 
lined on  my  cheek  by  poison  ivy  blisters.  The  day  after  that,  my  face 
was  swollen  so  that  my  eyes  were  tight  shut,  and  I  was  sick  for  two 
months;  since  my  training  was  finished,  I  was  sent  home  to  con- 
valesce. 


Chapter  Five 


CORALS- TO  CUT  LIFE  UPON 


VfT^OR  a  while  I  stayed  at  Corning,  and  then  went  back  to  New  York 
X/  to  start  nursing  in  earnest.  ,Qn  one  of  my  free  afternoons  in 
August,  Bill  and  I  went  for  a  drive,  and  he  suggested  we  stop  in  at 
the  house  of  a  friend  of  his  who  was  a  minister.  All  had  been  pre- 
pared. License  and  rice  were  waiting.  And  so  we  were  married. 

The  first  year  is  half  taken  up  with  love  and  half  with  planning  a 
future  together  which  is  to  endure  forever.  These  dreams  feed  youth- 
ful ambitions,  but  they  seldom  can  come  true  in  their  entirety.  In  our 
case  the  obstacles  arose  with  undue  speed. 

I  was  not  well.  I  was  paying  the  cost  of  long  hours  in  mother's 
closely  confined  room  and  of  continuous  overwork  in  the  hospital. 
Medical  advice  was  to  go  West  to  live,'  but  I  would  not  go  without 
Bill,  and  he  had  a  commission  which  kept  him  in  New  York,  Ac- 
cordingly, I  was,  packed  off  to  a  small  semi-sanitarium  near  Saranac 
where  the  great  Dr.  Trudeau,  specialist  in  pulmonary  tuberculosis, 
was  consulted. 

Existence  there  was  depressing.  A  man  might  be  talking  to  me 
one  day,  full  of  life  and  spirit  and  hope,  and  the  next  morning  not 
appear.  The  dead  were  ordinarily  removed  in  the  quiet  of  the  night, 
and  the  doctors  made  no  comment.  In  this  gloomy  environment  I 
rested,  preparing  myself  for  motherhood.  The  flood  of  treatises  on 
child  psychology  had  not  yet  started,  and  even  the  books  on  the  care 
and  feeding  of  infants  were  few.  But  I  read  whatever  I  could. 

58 


CORALS   TO    CUT   LIFE   UPON  59 

Just  before  it  was  time  for  the  baby  to  be  born  I  returned  to  the 
little  apartment  on  St.  Nicholas  Avenue  at  149th  Street,  then  prac- 
tically suburban.  Taking  every  precaution,  we  had  engaged  four 
doctors  in  a  row.  Dr.  Schmid  had  said  he  would  perform  the  cere- 
mony unless  it  came  at  night,  in  which  case  his  assistant  would  have 
to  take  charge.  The  assistant  had  provided  that,  if  he  were  not  avail- 
able, his  assistant  would  be  on  call,  and  this  assistant  had  another 
assistant  to  assist  him. 

When  towards  three  o'clock  one  morning  I  felt  the  first  thin,  fine 
pains  of  warning,  Bill  tried  one  after  the  other  of  our  obstetricians 
— not  one  could  be  located.  He  had  to  run  around  the  corner  to  the 
nearest  general  practitioner.  Due  almost  as  much  to  this  young  doc- 
tor's inexperience  as  to  my  physical  state,  the  ordeal  was  unusually 
hard,  but  the/baby  Stuart'ngiven  Amelia's  family  name,  was  perfectly 
healthy,  strong,  and  sturdy.  I  looked  upon  this  as  a  victory,  although 
it  was  only  partial,  because  I  had  to  go  right  back  to  the  mountains. 
It  was  a  wrench  to  leave  again  so  soon  and  at  such  a  time,  but  I 
could  not  believe  it  would  be  for  long. 

With  Stuart  and  a  nurse  I  took  rooms  in  a  friendly  farmhouse 
near  a  small  Adirondack  village;  I  did  not  want  the  baby  in  the 
midst  of  sick  people,  and,  moreover,  I  was  not  welcome  at  Saranac 
itself,  since  Dr.  Trudeau  did  not  like  to  have  in  residence  patients 
whose  illness  had  progressed  beyond  a  certain  stage.  One  of  the  most 
important  parts  of  the  treatment  was  stuffing  with  food.  I  was  being 
filled  with  the  then  recognized  remedy,  creosote,  and  gulped  capsule 
after  capsule,  which  broke  my  appetite  utterly.  Still  I  had  to  pour 
down  milk  and  swallow  eggs,  and  always  I  had  to  rest  and  rest  and 
rest. 

At  the  end  of  eight  months  I  was  worse  instead  of  better,  and  had 
no  interest  in  living.  Nan  and  Bill's  mother  were  summoned,  and 
two  of  Dr.  Trudeau's  associates  came  to  see  me.  They  advised  that 
I  should  go  nearer  Saranac  and  be  separated  from  all  personal  re- 
sponsibilities. 

"What  would  you  yourself  like  to  do?"  they  asked. 

"Nothing." 

"Where  would  you  like  to  go?" 

"Nowhere." 


6o  MARGARET    SANGER 

"Would  you  like  to  have  the  baby  sent  to  your  brother,  or  would 
you  rather  have  your  mother-in-law  take  it?" 

"I  don't  care." 

To  every  suggestion  I  was  negative.  I  was  not  even  interested  in 
my  baby. 

The  two  doctors  left.  The  younger,  however,  apparently  not  satis- 
fied with  the  professional  attitude,  returned  almost  immediately,  not 
so  much  in  a  medical  capacity  as  one  of  anxious  friendliness.  I  was 
still  sitting  in  the  same  state  of  listlessness.  He  laid  his  hand  on  my 
shoulder  quietly,  but  I  had  all  the  feeling  of  being  violently  shaken. 
"Don't  be  like  this !"  he  exclaimed.  "Don't  let  yourself  get  into  such 
a  mental  condition.  Do  something!  Want  something!  You'll  never 
get  well  if  you  keep  on  this  way." 

I  could  not  sleep  that  night.  I  had  been  rudely  jolted  from  my 
stupor  by  the  understanding  doctor.  Obviously  preparations  were 
being  made  for  a  lingering  illness  which  would  terminate  in  death. 
But  if  I  had  to  die  I  would  rather  be  with  those  I  loved  than  dis- 
appear in  the  night  as  a  part  of  the  cold  routine. 

As  the  first  glimmer  of  dawn  appeared  through  the  curtains  I  got 
up  and  stared  at  the  steadily  ticking  clock.  It  was  not  yet  five.  I 
dressed  quickly,  then  tiptoed  into  the  bedroom  where  the  nurse  and 
baby  were  slumbering  soundly.  I  roused  her  and  told  her  to  pack 
up ;  we  were  going  back  to  New  York.  She  looked  up  in  drowsy  dis- 
may, but  obeyed  meekly.  The  farmer  hitched  up  his  horse  and  we 
jogged  along  all  the  way  to  the  station  in  the  early  summer  morning, 
bright  with  sunshine  and  cheery  with  birds. 

Bill  was  waiting  at  the  Grand  Central  Terminal,  quite  naturally 
perplexed.  He  had  that  morning  received  two  telegrams,  one  saying 
I  was  to  be  removed  to  Saranac  at  once,  pending  his  approval  as  to 
the  care  of  the  baby  by  relatives,  and  the  other  from  me  asking  him 
to  meet  me  because  I  was  coming  home.  I  told  him  as  best  I  could  the 
reasons  for  my  sudden  decision.  Though  I  probably  sounded  inco- 
herent he  understood  and,  instead  of  scolding,  soothed  me  tenderly 
and  exclaimed,  "You  did  just  the  right  thing.  I  won't  let  you  die." 

"And  don't  make  me  eat!  Don't  even  mention  food  to  me!"  He 
promised  to  let  me  have  my  own  way. 

At  the  small  family  hotel  in  Yonkers  in  which  we  settled,  I  lived 


CORALS   TO    CUT   LIFE   UPON  6l 

pretty  much  by  myself,  keeping  the  baby  and  everyone  else  away 
from  me ;  I  had  by  now  learned  the  dangers  of  contact  in  spreading 
tuberculosis.  Once  free  from  the  horrors  of  invalidism  and  com- 
forted by  love  and  devotion  I  began  to  regain  a  normal  interest  in 
life,  and  by  the  end  of  three  weeks  had  recovered  from  my  hysterical 
rejection  of  food. 

As  soon  as  I  was  strong  enough  we  started  to  explore  Westchester 
County  for  a  home  site.  We  wanted  something  more  than  a  mere 
house.  We  wanted  space,  we  wanted  a  view,  we  wanted  a  garden. 
At  Hastings-on-Hudson  we  found  what  we  sought.  There  on  fifty 
acres  of  hillside  overlooking  the  river  about  ten  families — doc- 
tors, teachers,  college  professors,  scientists — had  combined  to  con- 
struct the  sort  of  dwellings  they  liked  in  the  environment  they  con- 
sidered best  suited  for  their  children.  We  too  had  in  mind  a  family 
and  a  comfortable,  serene,  suburban  existence,  and  we  joined  this 
Columbia  Colony,  as  it  was  called,  renting  a  small  cottage  until  we 
could  build  our  own. 

The  other  wives  and  I  spent  our  afternoons  conferring  over  the 
momentous  problems  of  servants,  gardens,  and  schools.  If  we  went 
to  town,  we  took  the  children  with  us,  fitting  them  with  special  shoes 
at  Coward's,  introducing  them  to  museums,  libraries,  or  art  galleries. 
Life  centered  around  them.  When  Stuart  and  his  little  friends  began 
to  ask  questions,  "Where  do  babies  come  from?"  I  collected  them 
and  tried  to  answer,  using  the  simple  phenomena  of  nature  as  illus- 
trations— flowers,  frogs,  fish,  and  animals.  I  still  consider  this 
approach  has  its  place  with  many  children,  although  modern  sex  edu- 
cationists may  smile  at  this  method,  thinking  it  old-fashioned. 

None  of  the  colony  played  cards.  Instead,  the  women  formed  a 
literary  club  where  we  read  papers  on  George  Eliot,  Browning,  and 
Shakespeare,  as  well  as  on  some  current  authors,  and  we  had  occa- 
sional political  discussions.  Out  of  this  grew  the  Women's  Club  of 
Hastings. 

It  was  all  very  pleasant,  and  at  first  I  was  busy  and  contented.  The 
endless  details  of  housekeeping  did  not  seem  to  me  drudgery;  con- 
quering minor  crises  was  exciting.  Though  I  was  never  slavishly  do- 
mestic, I  was  inclined  to  be  slavishly  maternal.  Bill  was  a  devoted 
husband.  He  took  care  of  me  in  the  little  ways — starting  for  the 


62  MARGARET   SANGER 

train  and  coming  back  to  put  his  head  in  the  door  and  call,  "It's  aw- 
fully cold.  Don't  go  out  without  your  wrap,"  or,  if  it  were  hot,  he 
offered,  "Give  me  your  list  and  I'll  send  up  the  groceries." 

I  was  again  leading  the  life  of  an  artist's  family.  Bill  was  a  hard 
worker;  I  can  rarely  remember  one  evening  of  just  reading  together. 
I  did  the  reading  and  he  drew  or  painted.  But  I  was  never  quite  sure 
whether  we  were  rich  or  poor.  He  possessed  the  finest  qualities  of 
creative  genius,  and  with  them  some  of  its  limitations  and  liabili- 
ties. When  he  was  paid  for  a  big  commission  he  brought  me  orchids 
and  embroidered  Japanese  robes  which  I  had  no  occasion  to  wear, 
and  filled  the  house  with  luxuries.  This  did  not  go  with  my  prac- 
tical sense.  If  the  grocery  account  were  long  unpaid,  I  protested, 
"They're  beautiful.  Thank  you,  but  can  we  afford  them?" 

"Certainly,"  and  out  of  his  pocket  came  tickets  for  the  opera  or 
theater,  his  chief  pleasures. 

"But  we  shouldn't,"  I  remonstrated  as  I  ruffled  a  sheaf  of  bills 
before  him. 

Nevertheless,  we  used  the  tickets. 

Every  architect  wants  to  embody  his  ideas  at  least  once  in  his  own 
home.  Ours  was  "modern"  in  its  square  simplicity  and  unadorned 
surfaces  of  stuccoed  hollow  tile,  even  being  called  a  show  house ;  peo- 
ple came  from  afar  to  study  it.  It  was  designed  to  have  a  large  nurs- 
ery opening  on  a  veranda  overlooking  the  Hudson,  a  studio,  a  bath 
with  each  bedroom,  fireplaces  everywhere,  and  one  especially  capa- 
cious in  the  big  library.  From  this  room  the  open  stairway,  forking 
at  the  lower  landing  with  a  few  steps  leading  down  into  the  kitchen, 
reached  up  the  wall  to  the  second  story. 

The  house  took  long  to  complete,  but  it  was  fun.  The  moment  Bill 
finished  his  work  in  New  York  he  was  back  at  it.  Theoretically  he 
supervised  at  night  and  the  builder  built  by  day.  But  when  an  arch 
did  not  turn  out  to  be  a  perfect  arch,  seizing  an  ax,  he  chopped  out 
part  of  it,  usually  pounding  his  fingers  in  the  process.  The  neigh- 
bors, careful  of  their  pennies,  held  their  ears  at  the  clatter  and  clamor 
and  exclaimed,  "There  goes  another  partition."  When  the  con- 
tractor returned  in  the  morning  he  found  his  previous  day's  work 
demolished.  Some  portions  were  entirely  done  over  two  or  three 
times. 


CORALS   TO    CUT   LIFE   UPON  63 

The  color  on  the  woodwork  we  applied  ourselves  by  artificial  light, 
plumped  on  our  knees  or  stretching  high  overhead.  If  the  effect  were 
wrong,  we  had  to  match  it  all  up  again.  Evening  after  evening  we 
labored  on  the  rose  window  which  was  to  crown  with  radiance  the 
head  of  the  staircase.  Far  into  the  night  we  leaded  and  welded  to- 
gether every  glowing  petal.  Our  fingers  were  cut,  our  nerves  were 
irritated,  our  eyes  fatigued.  But  tireless  love  went  into  the  com- 
position of  this  rose  window  which  symbolized  the  stability  of  our 
future.  We  were  aiming  at  permanence  and  security,  and  our  ef- 
forts seemed  to  be  fused  into  indestructible  unity.  It  was  our  key- 
stone of  beauty. 

After  the  tedious  worrying  over  details  we  suddenly  became  too 
impatient  to  wait  any  more,  and,  in  spite  of  the  raw  condition  of  the 
house,  late  one  February  afternoon  of  half-sleet,  half-rain,  a  mov- 
ing van  pulled  up  to  our  front  door.  Through  the  semi-twilight 
boxes,  crates,  and  barrels  were  carted  in. 

The  four-year-old  Stuart  was  not  well.  We  put  him  early  to  bed, 
and  Bill  stirred  up  a  roaring  fire  in  the  furnace  against  the  increas- 
ing cold.  Then  with  hammer  and  claw  we  turned  to  our  treasures, 
which  we  had  not  seen  for  such  a  time.  It  was  like  opening  packages 
on  Christmas  morning.  We  had  almost  forgotten  the  tapestry  Mary 
had  sent  from  Persia,  the  rug  from  Egypt,  Bill's  paintings.  "What's 
in  this  box?  Oh,  look  here!  See  what  I've  found!"  A  flood  of  color 
inundated  us.  We  tried  out  their  warmth  against  our  immaculate 
walls  and  floors.  I  was  carrying  my  second  baby  and  was  tired  hours 
before  I  wanted  to  stop.  As  I  climbed  up  to  bed  I  gazed  down  hap- 
pily on  the  litter  below. 

Some  time  later  I  heard  dimly  through  my  sleep  a  pounding,  and 
woke  to  realize  it  was  the  German  maid  at  the  door,  crying, 
"Madam.  Come!  Fire  in  the  big  stove!" 

We  jumped  out  of  bed.  Acrid  smoke  was  in  our  nostrils,  and  we 
were  swept  by  the  horror  of  fire  by  night.  Bill  shouted  to  me,  "Get 
right  out !  I've  got  to  give  the  alarm." 

Away  he  rushed  in  his  pajamas;  there  was  no  telephone  within 
half  a  mile.  I  seized  Stuart  from  his  crib,  bedclothes  and  all.  This 
took  only  a  few  seconds,  but  the  kitchen  was  already  ablaze  and 
flames  were  leaping  up  the  staircase.  I  pulled  the  blanket  over  his 


64  MARGARET    SANGER 

head  and  started  cautiously  down,  hugging  the  outer  side.  The  blis- 
tering treads  crunched  as  they  gave  under  my  feet,  but  did  not  col- 
lapse until  I  had  reached  the  smoke-filled  library. 

The  family  across  the  street  welcomed  us  in.  When  I  had  tucked 
Stuart  into  an  impromptu  bed  I  went  to  watch.  Not  merely  was  the 
fire  engine  trying  to  get  up  the  icy  hill,  two  steps  forward  and  one 
back,  but  the  whole  village  was  accompanying  it  to  help  organize 
a  bucket  brigade. 

The  clouds  had  cleared  and  the  bright  moon  was  shining  on  the 
strange  scene.  The  weather  had  turned  much  colder,  and  the  rain 
had  frozen  into  crystals  which  glittered  on  the  branches  of  trees 
and  shrubbery.  It  was  unbelievably  fantastic,  and  in  that  unreal 
setting  the  flames,  as  though  directed  by  devilish  intent,  spurted 
only  through  our  prized  rose  window.  I  stood  silently  regarding  the 
result  of  months  of  work  and  love  slowly  disintegrate.  Petal  by 
petal  it  succumbed  to  the  licking  tongues  of  fire;  one  by  one  they 
fell  into  the  gray-white  snow.  Fitting  them  together  had  taken  so 
long;  now  relentlessly  they  were  being  pulled  apart.  A  thing  of 
beauty  had  perished  in  a  few  moments. 

It  was  as  though  a  chapter  of  my  life  had  been  brought  to  a 
close,  and  I  was  neither  disappointed  nor  regretful.  On  the  con- 
trary, I  was  conscious  of  a  certain  relief,  of  a  burden  lifted.  In  that 
instant  I  learned  the  lesson  of  the  futility  of  material  substances. 
Of  what  great  importance  were  they  spiritually  if  they  could  go  so 
quickly ?'t Pains,  thirsts,  heartaches  could  be  put  into  the  creation  of 
something  external  which  in  one  sweep  could  be  taken  from  you\ 
With  the  destruction  of  the  window,  my  scale  of  suburban  values 
was  consumed.  I  could  never  again  pin  my  faith  on  concrete  things ; 
I  must  build  on  myself  alone.  I  hoped  I  should  continue  to  have 
lovely  objects  around  me,  but  I  could  also  be  happy  without  them. 

The  next  day  was  filled  with  neighbors  coming  to  condole  and 
offer  help,  and  with  insurance  adjusters  peering  about  and  ques- 
tioning. They  found  the  too-heavy  fire  in  the  furnace  had  overheated 
the  pipes  around  which  the  asbestos  had  not  yet  been  wrapped.  We 
lost  a  good  deal  because,  although  the  house  was  covered,  the  in- 
surance on  the  furniture  had  not  been  shifted  to  its  new  location, 


CORALS    TO    CUT   LIFE    UPON  65 

and,  moreover,  many  of  our  possessions  were  irreplaceable,  their 
worth  having  lain  in  the  sentiment  attached  to  them. 

A  personal  catastrophe  may  in  the  end  prove  to  be  a  public  benefit. 
People  in  the  community  are  brought  together  in  sympathy,  and 
learn  by  the  experience  of  others  how  to  protect  themselves.'  After 
our  mischance  every  householder  in  Columbia  Colony  began  to 
look  to  his  furnace  and  insure  his  home. 

Our  walls  were  fireproof,  and  much  of  the  house  could  be  saved, 
but  it  was  really  more  disheartening  than  complete  demolition  would 
have  been,  for  in  the  latter  case  we  could  have  started  to  rebuild 
from  the  beginning.  I  admired  Bill  greatly  for  the  resolute  way  he 
set  about  the  painful  business  again.  He  went  over  every  inch,  here 
saying,  "This  board  is  all  right,"  and  there  tearing  out  black  pieces  of 
charred  wood.  It  was  a  dirty  job,  but  he  stuck  to  it.  Nevertheless, 
paint  and  stain  as  we  would,  we  could  not  quite  get  rid  of  the  unmis- 
takable and  ineradicable  odor  which  clings  around  a  burned  build- 
ing, almost  like  the  smell  of  death. 

Next  summer  we  moved  in  once  more.  But  the  house  was  never 
the  same.  Never  could  I  recapture  that  first  flush  of  joy. 

Grant,  my  second  son,  was  born  almost  immediately.  I  loved  hav- 
ing a  baby  to  tend  again,  and  wanted  at  least  four  more  as  quickly 
as  my  health  would  permit.  I  could  not  wait  another  five  years.  I 
yearned  especially  for  a  daughter,  and  twenty  months  later  my  wish 
came  true.  After  Peggy's  birth,  the  doctor  went  downstairs  and  saw 
Bill  sitting  in  the  library  with  Grant  in  his  arms  and  tears  welling 
from  his  eyes. 

"Why,  what's  the  matter?  There's  a  nice  little  girl  upstairs." 

"I'm  thinking  of  this  poor  little  boy.  Margaret  has  wanted  a 
girl  so  long — now  she'll  have  no  room  in  her  heart  for  him." 

Bill's  fears  were  groundless.  Grant  was  not  supplanted,  but  Peggy 
was  so  satisfactory  a  baby  that  I  was  not  particularly  disappointed 
when  my  illness  cropped  up  again  and  the  doctor  said  my  family 
must  end  at  this  point.  I  was  quite  content  with  things  as  they  were. 

Even  as  a  little  fellow,  the  sandy-haired,  square-built  Stuart  was 
practical,  loved  sports,  and  had  a  reasoning,  logical  mind,  always 
experimenting  with  life   as   well  as   with  mechanical   things.   A 


66  MARGARET    SANGER 

thorough  Higgins,  he  had  to  find  out  for  himself  and  prove  it.  He 
used  to  stamp  and  scold  when  presented  with  a  chore,  such  as  mow- 
ing the  lawn  or  bringing  in  wood  for  the  fireplaces,  but  his  rebel- 
lions were  brief,  and,  when  he  realized  the  inevitable,  he  turned  it 
into  a  game.  "Come  on  over,"  he  hailed  his  friends.  "We've  lots  to 
do.  Let's  get  to  it !  We're  going  to  have  great  fun." 

The  other  boys,  taken  in  by  his  enthusiastic  invitations,  also  be- 
lieved that  mowing  the  lawn  or  bringing  in  wood  were  among  the 
best  games  invented. 

Grant  was  more  self-conscious  than  Stuart,  and  more  inarticulate, 
but  more  affectionate.  He  followed  the  baby  Peggy  slavishly.  They 
were  usually  hand  in  hand,  and  Grant's  darkness  contrasted  with  her 
bright,  blond  hair.  From  the  time  she  could  talk  they  referred  to 
themselves  as  "we."  Peggy  was  the  most  independent  child  I  have 
ever  seen.  At  three  she  knew  what  she  wanted  and  where  she  was 
going.  She  was  vivacious,  mischievous,  laughing — the  embodiment 
of  all  my  hopes  in  a  daughter. 

Stuart  typified  the  scientist,  Grant  the  artist,  Peggy  the  doer.  It 
was  maternally  gratifying  to  wonder  whether  they  would  carry 
out  these  propensities  in  their  later  lives. 

I  enjoyed  my  literary  activities  along  with  my  children,  and  Bill 
encouraged  me.  "You  go  ahead  and  finish  your  writing.  I'll  get 
the  dinner  and  wash  the  dishes."  And  what  is  more  he  did  it,  draw- 
ing the  shades,  however,  so  that  nobody  could  see  him.  He  thought 
I  should  make  a  career  of  it  instead  of  limiting  myself  to  small-town 
interests. 

Both  Bill  and  I  were  feeling  what  amounted  to  a  world  hunger, 
the  pull  and  haul  towards  wider  horizons.  For  him  Paris  was  still 
over  the  next  hill.  I  was  not  able  to  express  my  discontent  with 
the  futility  of  my  present  course,  but  after  my  experience  as  a  nurse 
with  fundamentals  this  quiet  withdrawal  into  the  tame  domesticity 
of  the  pretty  riverside  settlement  seemed  to  be  bordering  on  stag- 
nation. I  felt  as  though  we  had  drifted  into  a  swamp,  but  we  would 
not  wait  for  the  tide  to  set  us  free. 

It  was  hopeless  to  emphasize  the  importance  of  practical  neces- 
sities to  an  artist,  and  consequently  I  decided  to  resume  nursing  in 


CORALS   TO    CUT   LIFE   UPON  6j 

order  to  earn  my  share.  We  had  spent  years  building  our  home  and 
used  it  only  for  a  brief  while.  I  was  glad  to  leave  when,  in  one  of 
our  financial  doldrums,  we  plunged  back  into  the  rushing  stream  of 
New  York  life. 


Chapter  Six 


FANATICS  OF  THEIR  PURE  IDEALS 


WE  took  an  apartment  way  uptown.  It  was  the  old-fashioned 
railroad  type — big,  high-ceilinged,  with  plenty  of  room,  air, 
and  light.  The  children's  grandmother  came  to  live  with  us  and  her 
presence  gave  me  ease  of  mind  when  I  was  called  on  a  case;  my 
children  were  utterly  safe  in  her  care. 

.  Headlong  we  dived  into  one  of  the  most  interesting  phases  of 
life  the  United  States  has  ever  seen.  Radicalism  in  manners,  art,  in- 
dustry, morals,  politics  was  effervescing,  and  the  lid  was  about  to 
blow  off  in  the  Great  War.  John  Spargo,  an  authority  on  Karl 
Marx,  had  translated  Das  Kapital  into  English,  thus  giving  impetus 
to  Socialism.  Lincoln  Steffens  had  published  The  Shame  of  the 
Cities,  George  Fitzpatrick  had  produced  War,  What  For?,  a  strange 
and  wonderful  arraignment  of  capitalism,  which  sold  thousands  of 
copies. 

The  names  of  Cezanne,  Matisse,  and  Picasso  first  became  familiar 
sounds  on  this  side  of  the  Atlantic  at  the  time  of  the  notable  Armory 
Exhibition,  when  outstanding  examples  of  impressionist  and  cubist 
painting  were  imported  from  Europe.  But  there  was  so  much  of 
eccentricity — a  leg  on  top  of  a  head,  a  hat  on  a  foot,  the  Nude  De- 
scending a  Staircase,  all  in  the  name  of  art — that  you  had  to  close 
one  eye  to  look  at  it.  The  Armory  vibrated ;  it  shook  New  York. 

Although  Bill  had  studied  according  to  the  old  school,  he  could 
see  the  point  of  view  of  the  radical  in  art,  and  in  politics  as  well. 

68 


FANATICS    OF    THEIR    PURE   IDEALS  69 

His  attitude  towards  the  underdog  was  much  like  father's.  He  had 
always  been  a  Socialist,  although  not  active,  and  held  his  friend 
Eugene  V.  Debs  in  high  esteem. 

A  religion  without  a  name  was  spreading  over  the  country.  The 
converts  were  liberals,  Socialists,  anarchists,  revolutionists  of  all 
shades.  They  were  as  fixed  in  their  faith  in  the  coming  revolution 
as  ever  any  Primitive  Christian  in  the  immediate  establishment  of 
the  Kingdom  of  God.  Some  could  even  predict  the  exact  date  of  its 
advent. 

At. one  end  of  the  scale  of  rebels  and  scoffers  were  the  "pink" 
parliamentarian  socialists  and  theorists  at  whom  anarchists  hurled 
the  insult  "bourgeois."  At  the  other  were  the  Industrial  Workers 
of  the  World,  the  "Wobblies,"  advocating  unionization  of  the  whole 
industry  rather  than  the  craft  or  trade.  This  was  to  be  brought  about, 
if  need  be,  by  direct  action. 

Almost  without  knowing  it  you  became  a  "comrade."  You  could 
either  belong  to  a  group  that  believed  civilization  was  to  be  saved 
by  the  vote  and- by  protective  legislation,  or  go  further  to  the  left 
and  believe  with  the  anarchists  in  the  integrity  of  the  individual,  and 
that  it  was  possible  to  develop  human  character  to  the  point  where 
laws  and  police  were  unnecessary. 

The  mental  stirring  was  such  as  to  make  a  near  Renaissance. 
Everybody  was  writing  on  the  nebulous  "new  liberties."  Practically 
always  people  could  be  found  to  support  leaders  or  magazines,  al- 
though many  of  the  latter  lived  for  hardly  more  than  a  single  issue. 

Upton  Sinclair  was  utilizing  his  gift  for  vivid  expression  and 
righteous  wrath  in  trying  to  correct  social  abuses  by  the  indirect  but 
highly  effective  method  of  story-telling.  The  Jungle  was  a  powerful 
expose  of  the  capitalist  meat  industry  responsible  for  the  "em- 
balmed beef"  which  had  poisoned  American  soldiers  in  '98.  Cou- 
rageous as  he  was,  he  was  yet  mistrusted  by  the  Socialist  Old  Guard 
as  being  a  Silk  Hat  Radical  who  retained  his  bourgeois  philosophy. 
Furthermore,  he  had  been  divorced,  and  divorce  at  that  time  was 
something  of  a  scandal.  Though  anarchists  minded  such  details  not 
a  whit,  Socialists  were  imbued  with  all  the  respectabilities;  to  most 
of  these  home-loving  Germans,  only  the  form  of  government  needed 
change. 


JO  MARGARET   SANGER 

In  the  United  States  the  party  was  trying  to  separate  itself  from 
this  German  influence,  and  the  standard  bearer  of  the  American 
concept  was  the  magnetic  and  beloved  Debs.  Not  himself  an  intel- 
lectual, he  did  not  need  to  be;  he  was  intelligent.  Risen  as  he  had 
from  the  ranks  of  the  railroad  workers,  he  knew  their  hardships 
from  experience.  Though  I  am  not  sure  he  actually  was  tall,  he  gave 
the  illusion  of  height  because  of  his  thinness  and  stooping  shoul- 
ders. He  was  all  flame,  like  a  fire  spirit.  That  was  probably  why 
the  members  of  his  coterie  followed  him  so  gladly. 

Our  living  room  became  a  gathering  place  where  liberals,  an- 
archists, Socialists,  and  I.W.W.'s  could  meetl\  These  vehement  in- 
dividualists had  to  have  an  audience,  preferably  a  small,  intimate 
one.  They  really  came  to  see  Bill;  I  made  the  cocoa.  I  used  to  listen 
in,  not  at  all  sure  my  opinions  would  be  accepted  by  this  very  su- 
perior group.  When  I  did  meekly  venture  something,  I  was  quite 
likely  to  find  myself  on  the  opposite  side — right  in  a  left  crowd  and 
vice  versa. 

Any  evening  you  might  find  visitors  from  the  Middle  West  be- 
ing aroused  by  Jack  Reed,  bullied  by  Bill  Haywood,  led  softly 
towards  anarchist  thought  by  Alexander  Berkman.  When  throats 
grew  dry  and  the  flood  of  oratory  waned,  someone  went  out  for 
hamburger  sandwiches,  hot  dogs,  and  beer,  paid  for  by  all.  The 
luxuriousness  of  the  midnight  repast  depended  upon  the  collection 
of  coins  tossed  into  the  middle  of  the  table,  which  consisted  of  about 
what  everybody  had  in  his  pocket.  These  considerate  friends  never 
imposed  a  burden  either  of  extra  work  or  extra  expense.  In  the 
kitchen  everyone  sliced,  buttered,  opened  cans.  As  soon  as  all  were 
replenished,  the  conversation  was  resumed  practically  where  it  had 
left  off. 

Both  right-wingers  and  left-wingers  who  ordinarily  objected  to 
those  in  between  loved  Jack  Reed,  the  master  reporter  just  out 
of  Harvard.  He  refused  to  conform  to  the  rule  and  rote  of  either, 
though  his  natural  inclination  appeared  to  be  more  in  harmony  with 
direct  action. 

Behind  this  most  highly  intellectual  young  man  loomed  an  un- 
couth, stumbling,  one-eyed  giant  with  an  enormous  head  which  he 
tended  to  hold  on  one  side.  Big  Bill  Haywood  looked  like  a  bull  about 


FANATICS    OF   THEIR    PURE   IDEALS  7 1 

to  plunge  into  an  arena.  He  seemed  always  glancing  warily  this  way 
and  that  with  his  one  eye,  head  slightly  turned  as  though  to  get 
the  view  of  you.  His  great  voice  boomed ;  his  speech  was  crude  and 
so  were  his  manners ;  his  philosophy  was  that  of  the  mining  camps, 
where  he  had  spent  his  life.  But  I  soon  found  out  that  for  gentle- 
ness and  sympathy  he  had  not  his  equal.  He  was  blunt  because  he 
was  simple  and  direct.  Though  he  was  not  tailor-made,  he  was 
custom-made. 

Because  Big  Bill's  well-wishers  saw  so  much  that  was  fine  in 
him,  they  wanted  to  smooth  off  the  jagged  edges.  When  they  tried 
to  polish  his  speeches,  Jack  Reed  objected,  saying,  "Give  him  a  free 
hand.  He  expresses  what  you  and  I  think  much  more  dramatically 
than  we  can.  Don't  try  to  stop  him !  We  should  encourage  him." 

One  of  Big  Bill's  best  friends,  Jessie  Ashley,  was,  without  mean- 
ing to  be,  a  taming  influence.  These  two  were  the  oddest  combina- 
tion in  the  world — old  Bill  with  his  one  eye,  stubby,  roughened 
fingernails,  uncreased  trousers,  and  shoddy  clothes  for  which  he  re- 
fused to  pay  more  than  the  minimum;  Jessie  with  Boston  accent 
and  horn-rimmed  glasses,  a  compromise  between  spectacles  and 
lorgnette,  from  which  dangled  a  black  ribbon,  the  ultimate  word 
in  eccentric  decoration. 

Jessie  was  one  of  the  most  conspicuous  of  the  many  men  and 
women  of  long  pedigree  who  were  revolting  against  family  tradi- 
tion, She  was  the  daughter  of  the  President  of  the  New  York  School 
of  Law,  and  sister  of  its  dean.  When  her  brother  had  organized  the 
first  women's  law  class,  she  had  been  his  pupil  and  later  had  become 
the  first  woman  lawyer  in  New  York  City.  £Ter  peculiarly  honest 
mind  was  tolerant  towards  others,  but  uncompromising  towards 
herself.  It  was  said  of  her  truly  that  she  was  always  in  the  forefront 
when  it  took  courage  to  be  there;  always  in  the  background  when 
there  was  credit  to  be  gained.  A  Socialist  in  practice  as  well  as 
theory,  she  spent  large  portions  of  her  income  in  getting  radicals 
out  of  jail,  and  her  own  legal  experience  she  gave  freely  in  their  be- 
half. Nevertheless,  her  appearances  at  strike  meetings  were  slightly 
uncomfortable;  class  tension  rose  up  in  waves. 

Many  others  were  trying  to  pull  themselves  out  of  the  rut  of 
tradition.  Alexander  Berkman,  the  gentle  anarchist,  understood  them 


J2  MARGARET    SANGER 

all.  He  had  just  been  freed  after  fourteen  years'  imprisonment  for 
his  attempt  to  assassinate  Henry  Clay  Frick  during  the  Homestead 
Steel  strike  of  1892.  His  emergence  had  stirred  anarchism  up  again, 
and  particularly  its  credo  of  pure  individualism — to  stand  on  your 
own  and  be  yourself,  never  to  have  one  person  dictate  to  another,  even 
parent  to  child. 

Berkman's  appearance  belied  his  reputation — blond,  blue-eyed, 
slightly  built,  with  thinnish  hair,  and  sensitive,  mobile  face  and  hands. 
He  was  a  thoughtful  ascetic,  believing  sincerely  that  the  quickest  way 
to  focus  attention  on  social  outrages  was  to  commit  some  dramatic 
act,  however  violent  or  antipathetic  it  might  be  to  his  nature — and 
then  suffer  the  consequences.  He  was  not  at  all  embittered  by  his 
sojourn  in  jail,  and  had  a  great  sense  of  humor,  coupled  with  his 
most  extraordinary  understanding  of  the  strange  congeries  of  peo- 
ple who  were  about  to  be  melted  down  into  his  glowing  crucible  of 
truth. 

Elizabeth  Gurley  Flynn  had  made  the  transition  from  Catholicism, 
Jack  Reed  from  being  a  "Harvard  man,"  Mabel  Dodge  from  being 
a  society  matron.  They  all  had  had  to  get  over  being  class  conscious, 
and  acquire  instead  the  consciousness  of  the  class  struggle.  Berk- 
man  made  friends  with  all,  and  when  they  were  faced  by  problems 
apparently  insurmountable,  he  advised  them  on  their  spiritual  jour- 
ney, and  supported  and  backed  them.  For  this  reason  he  was  be- 
loved by  all  who  encountered  his  most  gracious  charm. 

This  was  not  the  way  of  Emma  Goldman,  whose  habit  was  to 
berate  and  lash  with  the  language  of  scorn.  She  was  never  satisfied 
until  people  had  arrived  at  her  own  doorstep  and  accepted  the  dogma 
she  had  woven  for  herself.  Short,  stocky,  even  stout,  a  true  Russian 
peasant  type,  her  figure  indicated  strength  of  body  and  strength  of 
character,  and  this  impression  was  enhanced  by  her  firm  step  and 
reliant  walk.  Though  I  disliked  both  her  ideas  and  her  methods  I 
admired  her;  she  was  really  like  a  spring  house-cleaning  to  the 
sloppy  thinking  of  the  average  American.  Our  Government  suf- 
fered in  the  estimation  of  the  liberal  world  when  she  and  Berkman 
were  expelled  from  the  country. 

Of  all  the  strange  places  for  these  diverse  personalities  to  meet, 
none  more  strange  could  have  been  found  than  in  Mabel  Dodge's 


FANATICS    OF   THEIR    PURE   IDEALS  73 

salon,  which  burst  upon  New  York  like  a  rocket.  Mabel  belonged 
to  one  of  the  old  families  of  Buffalo,  but  neither  in  thought  nor 
action  was  she  orthodox.  Only  in  the  luxurious  appointments  of  her 
home  did  she  conform. 

Among  the  sights  and  memories  I  shall  never  forget  were  her 
famous  soirees  at  Ninth  Street  and  Fifth  Avenue.  A  certain  one 
typical  of  all  the  others  comes  to  mind ;  the  whole  gamut  of  liberal- 
ism had  collected  in  her  spacious  drawing-room  before  an  open 
fire.  Cross-legged  on  the  floor,  in  the  best  Bohemian  tradition,  were 
Wobblies  with  uncut  hair,  unshaven  faces,  leaning  against  valuable 
draperies.  Their  clothes  may  have  been  unkempt,  but  their  eyes  were 
ablaze  with  interest  and  intelligence.  Each  knew  his  own  side  of  the 
subject  as  well  as  any  scholar.  You  had  to  inform  yourself  to  be  M 
in  the  liberal  movement.  Ideas  were  respected,  but  you  had  to  back  . 
them  up  with  facts.  Expressions  of  mere  emotion,  unleashed  from 
reason,  could  not  be  let  loose  to  wander  about. 

Listener  more  than  talker,  Mabel  sat  near  the  hearth,  brown 
bangs  outlining  a  white  face,  simply  gowned  in  velvet,  beautifully 
arched  foot  beating  the  air.  For  two  hours  I  watched  fascinatedly 
that  silken  ankle  never  ceasing  its  violent  agitation. 

The  topic  of  conversation  turned  out  to  be  direct  action.  Big 
Bill  was  the  figure  of  the  evening,  but  everybody  was  looking  for 
an  opportunity  to  talk.  Each  believed  he  had  a  key  to  the  gates  of 
Heaven;  each  was  trying  to  convert  the  others.  It  could  not  exactly 
have  been  called  a  debate,  because  a  single  person  held  the  floor  as 
long  as  he  could.  Then,  at  one  of  his  most  effective  periods,  some- 
body else  half  rose  and  interposed  a  "But — "  The  speaker  hurried 
on;  at  his  next  telling  sentence  came  other  "But — s,"  until  finally 
he  was  downed  by  the  weight  of  interruptions.  In  the  end,  conver- 
sions were  nil;  all  were  convinced  beforehand  either  for  or  against, 
and  I  never  knew  them  to  shift  ground. 

It  is  not  hard  to  laugh  about  it  now,  but  nobody  could  have  been 
more  serious  and  determined  than  we  were  in  those  days. 

Just  before  the  argument  reached  the  stage  of  fist  fights,  the 
big  doors  were  thrown  open  and  the  butler  announced,  "Madam, 
supper  is  served."  Many  of  the  boys  had  never  heard  those  words, 
but  one  and  all  jumped  up  with  alacrity  from  the  floor  and  discus- 


74  MARGARET    SANGER 

sion  was,  for  the  moment  at  least,  postponed.  The  wide,  generous 
table  in  the  dining  room  was  burdened  with  beef,  cold  turkey,  hot 
ham — hearty  meat  for  hungry  souls.  On  a  side  table  were  pitchers 
of  lemonade,  siphons,  bottles  of  rye  and  Scotch. 

Mabel  never  stirred  while  the  banquet  raged,  but  continued  to  sit, 
her  foot  still  beating  the  air,  and  talked  with  the  few  who  did  not 
choose  to  eat. 

The  class  contrasts  encountered  in  a  gathering  there  were  not 
unique.  They  were  to  be  found  elsewhere,  even  in  matrimony.  When 
the  wealthy  J.  G.  Phelps  Stokes  married  Rose  Pastor,  the  Russian- 
Jewish  cigar  maker,  both  families  felt  equally  outraged;  he  was 
practically  sent  to  Coventry  by  his  former  associates  and  the  Jews 
regarded  her  as  a  renegade  because  she  wore  a  silver  cross  about 
her  neck.  William  English  Walling,  the  last  word  in  Newport,  mar- 
ried Anna  Strunsky,  the  last  word  in  the  Jewish  intelligentsia,  and 
himself  became  a  leading  literary  critic  on  the  radical  side. 

Harvard  had  been  turning  out  liberals  by  the  dozen,  and  all  of 
them  were  playing  hob  with  accepted  conventions  in  thought.  One 
of  these  was  Walter  Lippmann,  others  were  Norman  Hapgood  and 
his  brother,  Hutchins.  "Hutch"  was  then  working  on  the  Globe,  a 
paper  which  because  of  its  broad  editorial  policy  was  preferred  by 
many  radicals  to  the  Call.  He  stood  by  Bill  Haywood  and  Emma 
Goldman,  although  he  had  much  more  to  lose  economically  and  so- 
cially than  the  out-and-out  reds. 

The  anarchists  seldom  initiated  anything,  because  they  did  not 
have  the  personnel  or  the  equipment,  but  when  something  else  was 
started  which  appeared  to  have  any  good  in  it,  they  came  right  in. 
This  they  did  with  the  Ferrer  School  on  Twelfth  Street  near  Fourth 
Avenue,  in  the  founding  of  which  Hutch,  with  the  liberal  journal- 
ist, Leonard  Abbott,  and  the  author,  Manuel  Komroff,  were  moving 
spirits.  The  object  was  to  provide  a  form  of  education  more  pro- 
gressive than  that  offered  by  the  public  schools,  and  its  name  was 
intended  to  perpetuate  the  memory  of  the  recently  martyred  Span- 
ish libertarian,  Francisco  Ferrer,  who  had  established  modern  free 
schools  in  Spain  in  which  science  and  evolution  had  been  taught. 

Lola  Ridge,  intense  rebel  from  Australia,  was  the  organizing  sec- 
retary, Robert  Henri  and  George  Bellows  gave  lessons  in  art,  and 


FANATICS    OF   THEIR    PURE   IDEALS  75 

a  young  man  named  Will  Durant  was  chosen  to  direct  the  younger 
children,  combining  in  his  teaching  Froebel,  Montessori,  and  other 
new  methods.  Under  him  we  enrolled  Stuart. 

Will  Durant  was  of  French-Canadian  ancestry.  His  mother  had 
worked  hard  to  put  him  through  a  Jesuit  seminary,  but  just  before 
taking  the  vows  he  had  abandoned  the  priesthood.  While  he  had 
been  studying  he  had  read  Krafft-Ebing  and  Havelock  Ellis  and 
was  prepared  to  acquaint  New  York  with  the  facts  of  sex  psychol- 
ogy. Sitting  nonchalantly  to  deliver  his  lectures,  which  evidenced 
scholarly  background  and  research,  he  advanced  to  his  small  but 
serious  audience  practically  the  first  public  expression  of  this  in- 
timate subject. 

The  young  instructor  created  rather  a  problem  for  the  directors 
by  unexpectedly  marrying  a  pupil,  Ida  Kaufman,  commonly  called 
Puck.  I  remember  one  Saturday  when  she  was  romping  with  Stuart, 
and  my  laundress  said  to  her,  "Why,  you're  so  young  to  be  married. 
Do  you  like  it?" 

Puck  replied,  "Oh,  I  don't  care,  but  I'd  much  rather  play  marbles." 

Intellectuals  were  then  flocking  to  enlist  under  the  flag  of  hu- 
manitarianism,  and  as  soon  as  anybody  evinced  human  sympathies 
he  was  deemed  a  Socialist.  My  own  personal  feelings  drew  me 
towards  the  individualist,  anarchist  philosophy,  and  I  read  Kropot- 
kin,  Bakunin,  and  Fourier,  but  it  seemed  to  me  necessary  to  ap- 
proach the  ideal  by  way  of  Socialism  \  as  long  as  the  earning  of  food, 
clothing,  and  shelter  was  on  a  competitive  basis,  man  could  never 
develop  any  true  independence. 

Therefore,  I  joined  the  Socialist  Party,  Local  Number  Five*  it- 
self something  of  a  rebel  in  the  ranks,  which,  against  the  wishes 
of  the  central  authority,  had  been  responsible  for  bringing  Bill 
Haywood  East  after  his  release  from  prison.  The  members — Italian, 
Jewish,  Russian,  German,  Spanish,  a  pretty  good  mixture — used 
the  rooms  over  a  neighborhood  shop  as  a  meeting  place  and  there 
they  were  to  be  found  every  evening  reading  and  discussing  politics. 

Somebody  had  donated  a  sum  of  money  to  be  spent  to  interest 
women  in  Socialism.  As  proof  that  we  were  not  necessarily  like 
the  masculine,  aggressive,  bulldog,  window-smashing  suffragettes 
in  England,  I,  an  American  and  a  mother  of  children,  was  selected 


j6  MARGARET    SANGER 

to  recruit  new  members  among  the  clubs  of  working  women.  The 
Scandinavians,  who  had  a  housemaids'  union,  were  the  most  satis- 
factory ;  they  already  leaned  towards  liberalism. 

Grant,  who  was  as  yet  too  young  to  go  to  school,  whole-heartedly 
disapproved  of  my  political  activities.  Once  when  I  was  about  to 
depart  for  the  evening  he  climbed  up  on  my  lap  and  said,  "Are 
you  going  to  a  meeting?" 

"Yes." 

"A  soshist  meeting?" 

"Yes." 

"Oh,  I  hate  soshism!" 

Everybody  else  was  amused  when  the  Sangers  went  to  a  Socialist 
meeting.  If  I  had  an  idea,  I  leaned  over  and  whispered  it  to  Bill, 
who  waved  his  hand  and  called  for  attention.  "Margaret  has  some- 
thing to  say  on  that.  Have  you  heard  Margaret?"  Many  men  might 
have  labeled  my  opinions  silly,  and,  indeed,  I  was  not  at  all  sure 
of  them  myself,  but  Bill  thought  if  I  had  one,  it  was  worth  hearing. 

John  Block  and  his  wife,  Anita,  were  ardent  workers  for  the 
cause.  She  was  a  grand  person,  a  Barnard  graduate  and  editor  of 
the  woman's  page  of  the  Call.  She  telephoned  me  one  evening,  "Will 
you  help  me  out  ?  (We  have  a  lecture  scheduled  for  tonight  and  our 
speaker  is  unable  to  come.  Won't  you  take  her  place?" 

"But  I  can't  speak.  I've  never  made  a  speech  in  my  life." 

"You'll  simply  have  to  do  it.  There  isn't  anybody  I  can  get,  and 
I'm  depending  on  you." 

"How  many  will  be  there?"  I  asked. 

"Only  about  ten.  You've  nothing  to  be  frightened  of." 

But  I  was  frightened — thoroughly  so.  I  could  not  eat  my  supper. 
Shaking  and  quaking  I  faced  the  little  handful  of  women  who  had 
come  after  their  long  working  hours  for  enlightenment.  Since  I  did 
not  consider  myself  qualified  to  speak  on  labor,  I  switched  the  sub- 
ject to  health,  with  which  I  was  more  familiar.  This,  it  appeared, 
was  something  new. ; They  were  pleased  and  said  to  Anita,  "Let's 
have  more  health  talks."  'The  second  time  we  met  the  audience  had 
swelled  to  seventy-five  and  arrangements  were  made  to  continue  the 
lectures,  if  such  they  could  be  called,  which  I  prepared  while  my 
patients  slept. 


FANATICS    OF   THEIR    PURE    IDEALS  JJ 

i  The  young  mothers  in  the  group  asked  so  many  questions  about 
their  intimate  family  life  that  I  mentioned  it  to  Anita.  "Just  tne 
thing/'  she  said.  "Write  up  your  answers  and  we'll  try  them  out  in 
the  Call."  The  result  was  the  first  composition  I  had  ever  done  for 
publication,  a  series  under  the  general  title,  What  Every  Mother 
Should  Know.  I  attempted,  as  I  had  with  the  Hastings  children,  to 
introduce  the  impersonality  of  nature  in  order  to  break  through  the 
rigid  consciousness  of  sex  on  the  part  of  parents,  who  were  inclined 
to  be  too  intensely  personal  about  it. 

Then  Anita  requested  a  second  series  to  be  called;  What  Every 
Girl  Should  Know.  The  motif  was,  "If  the  mother  can  impress  the 
child  with  the  beauty  and  wonder  and  sacredness  of  the  sex  function, 
she  has  taught  it  the  first  lesson." 

These  articles  ran  along  for  three  or  four  weeks  until  one  Sunday 
morning  I  turned  to  the  Call  to  see  my  precious  little  effort,  and,  in- 
stead, encountered  a  newspaper  box  two  columns  wide  in  which  was 
printed  in  black  letters, 

WHAT  EVERY  GIRL  SHOULD  KNOW 


BY  ORDER  OF 

THE  POST-OFFICE  DEPARTMENT 


The  words  gonorrhea  and  syphilis  had  occurred  in  that  article 
and  Anthony  Comstock,  head  of  the  New  York  Society  for  the  Sup- 
pression of  Vice,  did  not  like  them.  By  the  so-called  Comstock  Law 
of  1873,  which  had  been  adroitly  pushed  through  a  busy  Congress 


78  MARGARET   SANGER 

/  \ 

on  the  eve  of  adjournment,  the  Post  Office  had  been  given  authority 
to  decide  what  might  be  called  lewd,  lascivious,  indecent,  or  obscene, 
and  this  extraordinary  man  had  been  granted  the  extraordinary 
power,  alone  of  all  citizens  of  the  United  States,  to  open  any  letter 
or  package  or  pamphlet  or  book  passing  through  the  mails  and,  if 
he  wished,  lay  his  complaint  before  the  Post  Office.  So  powerful  had 
his  society  become  that  anything  to  which  he  objected  in  its  name 
was  almost  automatically  barred ;  he  had  turned  out  to  be  sole  censor 
for  ninety  million  people.  During  some  forty  years  Comstock  had  been 
damming  the  rising  tide  of  new  thought,  thereby  causing  much  harm, 
and  only  now  was  his  hopeless  contest  against  September  Morn  making 
him  absurd  and  an  object  of  ridicule. 

But  at  this  same  time  also  John  D.  Rockefeller,  Jr.  was  organiz- 
ing the  Bureau  of  Social  Hygiene,  in  part  to  educate  the  working 
public  regarding  what  were  politely  termed  "social  evils."  A  fine 
start  was  being  made  although  no  surveys  had  been  completed.  Lack- 
ing data,  lecturers  had  to  speak  in  generalities.  Nevertheless,  to  me, 
who  had  sat  through  hours  of  highly  academic  exposition  expressed 
in  cultivated  tones,  their  approach  seemed  timorous  and  their  words 
disguised  with  verbiage.  I  saw  no  reason  why  these  facts  could  not 
be  given  in  a  few  minutes  in  language  simple  enough  for  anyone 
to  understand. 

When  my  series  was  finished  it  was  printed  in  pamphlet  form.  I 
sent  a  copy  to  Dr.  Prince  Morrow  of  the  Bureau,  asking  for  his 
opinion  and  any  corrections  he  might  suggest  for  the  next  edition; 
to  my  delight  he  replied  he  would  like  to  see  it  spread  by  the  mil- 
lion. The  Bureau  had  names  and  backing  but  was  not  proceeding 
very  fast  towards  educating  working  people  regarding  venereal 
disease;  the  articles  in  the  Call,  on  the  other  hand,  were  reaching 
this  same  class  by  the  thousand — yet  the  one  which  mentioned  syphilis 
was  suppressed. 

[I  continued  assiduously  to  write  pieces  for  the  Call:,  One  of  these 
reported  the  laundry  strike  in  New  York  City  in  the  winter  of  1 91 2, 
unauthorized  by  Samuel  Gompers  and  his  American  Federation  of 
Labor,  which  claimed  it  alone  had  the  right  to  declare  strikes.  To 
get  the  details  I  went  into  the  houses  of  the  Irish  Amazons,  who 
with  their  husbands  had  walked  out  without  being  called  out,  simply 


FANATICS   OF   THEIR   PURE   IDEALS  79 

because  they  could  not  stand  it  any  longer.  They  were  the  hardest 
worked,  the  poorest  paid,  had  the  most  protracted  and  irregular 
hours  of  any  union  members.  One  man  described  his  typical  day: 
he  rose  at  five,  had  ten  minutes  for  lunch,  less  for  supper,  and 
dragged  himself  home  at  eleven  at  night.  I  was  glad  they  had  the 
courage  to  rebel,  and  it  took  courage  to  be  a  picket — getting  up  so 
early  on  bitterly  cold  mornings  and  waiting  and  waiting  to  waylay 
the  strikebreakers  and  argue  with  them.  The  police  were  ready  to 
pounce  when  the  boss  pointed  out  the  ringleaders. 

This  was  the  only  time  I  came  in  contact  with  men  and  women 
on  strike  together.  I  could  see  the  men  had  two  things  in  their 
minds :  one  economic — the  two-dollar  extra  wage  and  the  shorter 
hours  they  might  win;  the  other  political — the  coming  of  the  social 
revolution.  The  women  really  cared  for  neither  of  these.  Dominat- 
ing each  was  the  relationship  between  her  husband,  her  children, 
and  herself.  She  might  complain  of  being  tired  and  not  having 
enough  money,  but  always  she  connected  both  with  too  many  off- 
spring. 

Some  of  the  strikers  thought  I  might  help  them  out,  but  I  was 
not  at  all  sure  I  believed  either  in  direct  action  or  legislation  as  a 
remedy  for  their  difficulties.  This  lack  of  conviction  prevented  me 
from  having  the  necessary  force  to  aid  them  organize  themselves, 
and  in  such  an  emergency  a  forceful  leader  was  called  for.  The  night 
of  their  rally  I  was  amazed  at  the  complete  confusion.  Anybody 
could  speak — and  was  doing  so. 

I  felt  helpless  in  the  midst  of  this  chaos,  and  distressed  at  their 
helplessness.  But  I  knew  the  person  who  could  manage  the  situa- 
tion effectively,  and  so  I  sent  for  Elizabeth  Gurley  Flynn,  a  direct 
actionist  identified  with  the  I.W.W.  Her  father,  Tom  Flynn,  a 
labor  organizer,  was  the  same  type  of  philosophical  rebel  as  my 
father,  long  on  conversation  but  short  on  work.  Elizabeth  had  been 
out  in  the  logging  camps  of  the  West,  where  she  had  won  the  com- 
plete adoration  of  the  lumberjacks.  At  her  tongue's  end  were  the 
words  and  phrases  they  understood,  and  she  knew  exactly  the  right 
note  to  stir  them. 

Elizabeth  stood  on  the  platform,  dramatically  beautiful  with  her 
black  hair  and  deep  blue  eyes,  her  cream-white  complexion  set  off 


80  MARGARET    SANGER 

by  the  flaming  scarf  she  always  wore  about  her  throat.  Nothing  if 
not  outspoken,  she  started  by  saying  it  was  folly  for  the  strikers 
to  give  up  their  bread  and  butter  by  walking  out.  They  could  achieve 
their  ends  more  quickly  if  they  threw  hypothetical  sabots  into  the 
machinery.  "If  a  shirt  comes  in  from  a  man  who  wears  size  fifteen, 
send  him  back  an  eighteen.  Replace  a  dress  shirt  with  a  blue  denim. 
That's  what  the  laundry  workers  of  France  did,  and  brought  the 
employers  to  their  knees." 

The  audience  was  being  held  spellbound  by  this  instruction  in 
the  fine  art  of  sabotage  when  some  of  Gompers'  strong-arm  men 
appeared,  and  the  battle  was  on.  They  tramped  up  on  the  stage, 
moved  furniture  and  chairs  about,  made  so  much  noise  Elizabeth's 
voice  could  not  be  heard,  and  finally  ejected  some  of  her  sympathiz- 
ers. 

It  was  probably  better  in  the  end  that  the  American  Federation 
of  Labor  eventually  took  the  laundry  workers  under  its  wing,  be- 
cause the  I.W.W.  was  not  an  organized  body,  but  merely  an  agita- 
tional force  which  scarcely  had  the  necessary  strength  to  lead  a 
successful  strike  in  New  York  City.  Its  influence  in  Lawrence, 
Massachusetts,  was  far  more  potent.  Joe  Ettor,  once  bootblack  in 
California,  with  Arturo  Giovanitti,  scholar,  idealist,  poet,  and  edi- 
tor of  77  Proletario,  had  been  stirring  up  the  unorganized  textile 
strikers  with  impassioned  eloquence.  So  compelling  were  the  words 
of  these  two  that  workers  of  seven  nationalities,  chiefly  Italian,  had 
walked  out  spontaneously. 

The  accidental  shooting  of  a  girl  picket  provided  an  excuse,  far- 
fetched as  it  may  seem,  to  jail  the  firebrands,  Ettor  and  Gio- 
vanitti, who  were  charged  with  being  "accessories  before  the  fact," 
which  meant  they  were  accused  of  having  known  beforehand  she 
was  going  to  be  shot  by  the  police  and  were,  therefore,  responsible. 
Now,  the  strikers  had  martyrs,  and  the  I.W.W.  heroes  of  the  West 
poured  in  to  help.  Bill  Haywood,  William  E.  Trautman  of  the 
United  Brewery  Workers,  Carlo  Tresca,  editor  and  owner  of  an 
Italian  paper  in  New  York,  contributed  to  put  on  the  biggest  show 
the  East  had  ever  seen — parades,  banners,  songs,  speeches. 

The  entire  Italian  population  of  America  was  aroused.  These 
were  then  a  people  unto  themselves.  For  much  longer  than  the  two 


FANATICS   OF   THEIR   PURE   IDEALS  8 1 

generations  customary  among  other  immigrant  races  they  retained 
their  habits,  traditions,  and  language,  ate  their  own  type  of  food 
and  read  their  own  newspapers. 

Italians  in  New  York  who  were  in  accord  with  the  strikers  de- 
cided on  a  step,  novel  in  this  country  although  it  had  been  tried 
in  Italy  and  Belgium.  pThe  primary  reason  for  the  failure  of  all  labor 
rebellions  was  the  hunger  cries  of  lhe-kabi€&;  if  they  were  only  fed 
the  strikers  could  usually  last  out^  It  was  determined  to  bring  the 
children  of  the  textile  workers  to  New  York,  where  they  could  b« 
taken  care  of  until  the  issue  was  settled.  This  resolution  was  made 
without  knowing  how  many  there  might  be;  provision  would  be 
forthcoming  somehow. 

Again  because  I  was  an  American,  a  nurse,  and  reputed  to  be 
sympathetic  to  their  cause  and  the  cause  of  children,  the  committee 
asked  me  with  John  Di  Gregorio  and  Carrie  Giovanitti  to  fetch  the 
youngsters.  As  soon  as  I  agreed,  telephone  calls  were  put  through  to 
Lawrence,  and  a  delegate  took  the  midnight  train  to  make  the  pre- 
liminary arrangements. 

We  found  the  boys  and  girls  gathered  in  a  Lawrence  public  hall 
and,  before  we  started,  I  insisted  on  physical  examinations  for  con- 
tagious diseases.  One,  though  ill  with  diphtheria,  had  been  working 
up  to  the  time  of  the  strike.  Almost  all  had  adenoids  and  enlarged 
tonsils.  Each,  without  exception,  was  incredibly  emaciated. 

Our  hundred  and  nineteen  charges  were  of  every  age,  from  babies 
of  two  or  three  to  older  ones  of  twelve  to  thirteen.  Although  the 
latter  had  been  employed  in  the  textile  mills,  their  garments  were 
simply  worn  to  shreds.  Not  a  child  had  on  any  woolen  clothing 
whatsoever,  and  only  four  wore  overcoats.  Never  in  all  my  nursing 
in  the  slums  had  I  seen  children  in  so  ragged  and  deplorable  a  condition. 
The  February  weather  was  bitter,  and  we  had  to  run  them  to  the  sta- 
tion. There  the  parents,  with  tears  in  their  eyes  and  gratitude  in 
their  hearts,  relinquished  their  shivering  offspring. 

The  wind  was  even  icier  when  we  reached  Boston,  and  money 
was  scarce.  I  had  only  enough  for  railroad  fares  and  none  for  char- 
tering buses  or  hiring  taxis.  Consequently,  again  we  had  to  scurry 
on  foot  from  the  North  to  the  South  Station.  But,  once  more  on 
the  train,  great  was  the  enthusiasm  of  the  boys  and  girls,  who  en- 


82  MARGARET    SANGER 

tertained  themselves  by  singing  the  Marseillaise  and  the  Interna- 
tionale. All  knew  the  words  as  well  as  the  tunes,  though  the  former 
might  be  in  Polish,  Hungarian,  French,  German,  Italian,  and  even 
English.  The  children  who  sang  those  songs  are  now  grown  up.  I 
wonder  how  they  regard  the  present  state  of  the  world. 

As  we  neared  New  York  I  began  to  worry  about  our  arrival. 
We  were  all  weary.  Would  preparations  have  been  made  to  feed 
this  hungry  mob  and  house  it  for  the  night?  But  I  should  have 
trusted  the  deep  feeling  and  the  dramatic  instinct  of  the  Italians. 
Thousands  of  men  and  women  were  waiting.  As  my  assistants  and 
I  left  the  train,  looking  like  three  Pied  Pipers  followed  by  our  ragged 
cohorts,  the  crowd  pushed  through  the  police  lines,  leaped  the  ropes, 
caught  up  the  children  as  they  came,  and  hoisted  them  to  their 
shoulders.  I  was  seized  by  both  arms  and  I,  too,  had  the  illusion 
of  being  swept  from  the  ground. 

The  committee  had  secured  permission  to  parade  to  Webster  Hall 
near  Union  Square.  Our  tired  feet  fell  into  the  rhythm  of  the  band. 
As  we  swung  along  singing,  laughing,  crying,  big  banners  bellying 
and  torches  flaring,  sidewalk  throngs  shouted  and  whistled  and  ap- 
plauded. 

At  Webster  Hall  supper  was  ready  in  plentiful  quantity.  Many 
of  our  small  guests  were  so  unused  to  sitting  at  table  that  they  did 
not  know  how  to  behave.  Like  shy  animals  they  tried  to  take  cover, 
carrying  their  plates  to  a  chair,  a  box,  anything  handy.  Almost  all 
snatched  at  their  food  with  both  fists  and  stuffed  it  down,  they  were 
so  hungry. 

Socialists  had  not  initiated  this  fight  but  they  were  in  it.  Many 
had  come  to  offer  shelter  for  the  duration  of  the  strike — perhaps  six 
weeks,  perhaps  six  months,  perhaps  a  year — with  visions  in  their 
minds  of  beautiful,  starry-eyed,  helpless  little  ones.  Instead  they 
were  presented  with  bedraggled  urchins,  many  of  whom  had  never 
seen  a  toothbrush.  But  they  rallied  round  magnificently;  I  cannot 
speak  too  highly  of  them. 

It  was  a  responsibility  to  apportion  the  children  properly,  but  I 
had  willing  and  intelligent  help.  The  Poles  had  sent  a  Polish  dele- 
gate, the  French  had  sent  a  French  delegate,  and  so  on,  in  order 
that  all  might  be  placed  in  homes  where  they  could  be  understood. 


FANATICS   OF   THEIR   PURE   IDEALS  83 

Luckily  several  families  were  willing  to  take  more  than  one  child 
so  that  we  were  usually  able  to  keep  brother  and  sister  together. 
Each,  before  it  was  handed  over,  was  given  a  medical  examination. 
The  temporary  foster-parents  had  to  promise  to  write  the  real 
parents,  and  also  to  send  a  weekly  report  to  the  committee  of  how 
their  charges  were  getting  on.  The  tabulation  was  thorough,  and 
not  until  four  in  the  morning  did  the  last  of  us  go  to  bed. 

The  next  week,  ninety-two  more  children  were  brought  down,  but 
I  had  no  part  in  this,  because  I  was  on  a  case.  Hysteria  had  now  risen 
to  such  a  height  that  some  of  the  parents  at  the  Lawrence  Station 
were  beaten  and  arrested  by  the  police.  Victor  Berger  of  Wis- 
consin, the  only  Socialist  member  of  Congress,  asked  for  an  investi- 
gation of  circumstances  leading  up  to  the  walkout.  Although  I  had 
not  been  identified  with  it,  he  requested  me  to  be  present  at  the 
hearings. 

When  Gompers  testified,  he  literally  shook  with  rage,  and  it 
seemed  to  me  he  was  about  to  have  apoplexy.  The  mill  owners 
charged  that  the  whole  affair  had  been  staged  solely  for  notoriety 
and  that  the  Society  for  the  Prevention  of  Cruelty  to  Children 
should  step  in. 

Unfortunately,  the  witnesses  for  the  strikers  were  not  well- 
documented.  When  it  was  obvious  that  the  Congressional  Commit- 
tee was  not  receiving  the  correct  impression,  Berger  asked  me  to 
take  the  stand  and  describe  the  condition  of  the  children  as  I  had 
seen  them.  Writing  up  statistics  on  hospital  reports  had  given  me 
the  habit  of  classification.  I  was  able  from  my  brief  notes  to  answer 
every  question  as  to  their  nationalities,  their  ages,  their  weights, 
the  number  of  those  without  underclothes  and  without  overcoats. 
Senator  Warren  Gamaliel  Harding  led  the  inquiry,  and  I  could  see 
he  was  in  sympathy  with  my  vehement  replies. 

The  publicity  had  been  so  well  managed  by  the  Italians  and  their 
leaders  that  popular  opinion  turned  in  favor  of  the  strikers,  and  they 
eventually  won.  At  the  end  of  March  the  little  refugees,  who  had 
endeared  themselves  to  their  foster-parents,  went  back  to  the  mill 
district.  It  was  hard  to  recognize  the  same  children  of  six  weeks 
before,  plumped  up  and  dressed  in  new  clothes.  In  November  Ettor 
and  Giovanitti  were  acquitted. 


84  MARGARET   SANGER 

The  Paterson  silk  strike  of  the  next  year,  in  which  the  workers 
were  again  predominantly  Italian,  may  have  been  as  important  as 
the  one  at  Lawrence,  but  it  was  by  no  means  so  obviously  dramatic. 
Paterson  was  a  gloomy  city,  and,  as  a  river,  the  Passaic  was  sadder 
than  the  Merrimac.  Though  the  leadership  was  far  more  cohesive, 
caution  was  evidenced  on  every  hand.  Its  chief  interest  to  me  lay 
in  Bill  Haywood's  participation.  At  Lawrence  he  had  only  been 
one  of  the  committee,  whereas  at  Paterson  he  was  in  charge  for 
the  first  time  in  the  East.  Always  before  he  had  advised  strikers  to 
"take  it  on  the  chin"  and  not  be  too  gentle  in  hitting  back.  But  here, 
before  ten  thousand  crowding  up  to  the  rostrum,  I  heard  him  warn, 
"Keep  your  hands  in  your  pockets,  men,  and  nobody  can  say  you 
are  shooting." 

An  American  was  apt  to  be  at  a  disadvantage  in  handling  for- 
eigners, particularly  when  they  felt  aggrieved.  They  objected  to  his 
manner  of  going  about  things,  so  different  from  their  own,  and  he, 
on  the  other  hand,  could  not  fully  understand  their  psychology,  and 
had  the  added  obstacle  of  being  compelled  to  work  through  an  in- 
termediary in  language. 

At  Paterson  the  Italian  groups  were  not  behind  Bill.  As  soon  as 
he  began  to  temper  his  language  and  sound  a  more  wary  note  of  ad- 
vice, his  once-faithful  adherents  repudiated  him.  His  clarion  call  of 
"Hands  in  the  Pockets,"  which  was  intended  to  create  favorable 
popular  opinion  by  proving  them  "good  boys,"  had  actually  tied 
their  hands,  and  detectives  beat  and  bullied  them  just  the  same.  The 
public  was  not  impressed  and  they  were  resentful.  They  claimed  he 
did  not  have  the  old  righting  spirit  he  had  shown  when  directing 
the  miners  of  the  West,  he  was  getting  soft,  he  was  a  sick  man.  Al- 
though he  had  actually  progressed  tactically  and  left  them  where 
they  were,  from  that  time  on  he  lost  his  power  of  leadership. 

Following  the  method  which  had  been  so  successful  at  Lawrence, 
Jack  Reed  endeavored  to  dramatize  direct  action  in  an  enormous 
pageant  at  Madison  Square  Garden.  He  even  had  pallbearers  carry 
an  actual  coffin  into  the  hall  to  pictorialize  the  funeral  of  a  worker 
who  had  been  shot  at  Paterson.  I  could  feel  a  tremor  go  through 
the  audience,  but,  on  the  whole,  conviction  was  lacking. 

The  pageant  was  a  fitting  conclusion  to  one  period  of  my  life. 


FANATICS   OF   THEIR   PURE   IDEALS  85 

I  believe  that  we  all  had  our  parts  to  play.  Some  had  important 
ones ;  some  were  there  to  lend  support  to  a  scene ;  some  were  merely 
voices  off  stage.  Each,  whatever  his  role,  was  essential.  I  only  walked 
on,  but  it  had  its  influence  in  my  future. 

No  matter  to  what  degree  I  might  participate  in  strikes,  I  always 
came  back  to  the  idea  which  was  beginning  to  obsess  me — that 
something  more  was  needed  to  assuage  the  condition  of  the  very 
poor.  It  was  both  absurd  and  futile  to  struggle  over  pennies  when 
fast-coming  babies  required  dollars  to  feed  them. 

I  was  thoroughly  despondent  after  the  Paterson  debacle,  and  had 
a  sickening  feeling  that  there  was  to  be  no  end;  it  seemed  to  me 
the  whole  question  of  strikes  for  higher  wages  was  based  on  man's 
economic  need  of  supporting  his  family,  and  that  this  was  a  shallow 
principle  upon  which  to  found  a  new  civilization.  Furthermore,  I 
was  enough  of  a  Feminist  to  resent  the  fact  that  woman  and  her 
requirements  were  not  being  taken  into  account  in  reconstructing  this 
new  world  about  which  all  were  talking.  They  were  failing  to  con- 
sider the  quality  of  life  itself. 


Chapter  Seven 


THE  TURBID  EBB  AND  FLOW  OF  MISERY 


'Every  night  and  every  morn 
Some  to  misery  are  born. 
Every  mom  and  every  night 
Some  are  born  to  sweet  delight. 
Some  are  born  to  sweet  delight, 
Some  are  bom  to  endless  night." 

WILLIAM   BLAKE 


DURING  these  years  in  New  York  trained  nurses  were  in  great 
demand.  Few  people  wanted  to  enter  hospitals;  they  were 
afraid  they  might  be  "practiced"  upon,  and  consented  to  go  only  in 
desperate  emergencies.  Sentiment  was  especially  vehement  in  the 
matter  of  having  babies.  A  woman's  own  bedroom,  no  matter  how 
inconveniently  arranged,  was  the  usual  place  for  her  lying-in.  I  was 
not  sufficiently  free  from  domestic  duties  to  be  a  general  nurse,  but 
I  could  ordinarily  manage  obstetrical  cases  because  I  was  notified 
far  enough  ahead  to  plan  my  schedule.  And  after  serving  my  two 
weeks  I  could  get  home  again. 

Sometimes  I  was  summoned  to  small  apartments  occupied  by 
young  clerks,  insurance  salesmen,  or  lawyers,  just  starting  out, 
most  of  them  under  thirty  and  whose  wives  were  having  their  first 
or  second  baby.  They  were  always  eager  to  know  the  best  and  latest 
method  in  infant  care  and  feeding.  In  particular,  Jewish  patients, 
whose  lives  centered  around  the  family,  welcomed  advice  and  fol- 
lowed it  implicitly. 

But  more  and  more  my  calls  began  to  come  from  the  Lower  East 
Side,  as  though  I  were  being  magnetically  drawn  there  by  some 
force  outside  my  control.  I  hated  the  wretchedness  and  hopelessness 
of  the  poor,  and  never  experienced  that  satisfaction  in  working 

86 


THE    TURBID    EBB    AND    FLOW    OF    MISERY  87 

among  them  that  so  many  noble  women  have  found.  My  concern 
for  my  patients  was  now  quite  different  from  my  earlier  hospital 
attitude.  I  could  see  that  much  was  wrong  with  them  which  did  not 
appear  in  the  physiological  or  medical  diagnosis.  A  woman  in  child- 
birth was  not  merely  a  woman  in  childbirth.  My  expanded  outlook 
included  a  view  of  her  background,  her  potentialities  as  a  human 
being,  the  kind  of  children  she  was  bearing,  and  what  was  going 
to  happen  to  them. 

The  wives  of  small  shopkeepers  were  my  most  frequent  cases, 
but  I  had  carpenters,  truck  drivers,  dishwashers,  and  pushcart  ven- 
dors. I  admired  intensely  the  consideration  most  of  these  people 
had  for  their  own.  Money  to  pay  doctor  and  nurse  had  been  care- 
fully saved  months  in  advance — parents-in-law,  grandfathers,  grand- 
mothers, all  contributing. 

As  soon  as  the  neighbors  learned  that  a  nurse  was  in  the  build- 
ing they  came  in  a  friendly  way  to  visit,  often  carrying  fruit,  jellies, 
or  gefullter  fish  made  after  a  cherished  recipe.  It  was  infinitely 
pathetic  to  me  that  they,  so  poor  themselves,  should  bring  me  food. 
Later  they  drifted  in  again  with  the  excuse  of  getting  the  plate,  and 
sat  down  for  a  nice  talk;  there  was  no  hurry.  Always  back  of  the 
little  gift  was  the  question,  "I  am  pregnant  (or  my  daughter,  or  \ 
my  sister  is).  Tell  me  something  to  keep  from  having  another  baby.  I 


We  xannot  afford  another  yet. 


I  tried  to  explain  the  (only  two  methods  I  had  ever  heard  of  among 
the  middle  classes,  both  of  which  were  invariably  brushed  aside  as 
unacceptable.  [They  were  of  no  certain  avail  to  the  wife  because 
they  placed  the  burden  of  responsibility  solely  upon  the  husband — 
a  burden  which  he  seldom  assumed.  What  she  was  seeking  was  self- 
protection  she  could  herself  use,  and  there  was  none.. 

Below  this  stratum  of  society  was  one  in  truly  desperate  circum- 
stances. The  men  were  sullen  and  unskilled,  picking  up  odd  jobs 
now  and  then,  but  more  often  unemployed,  lounging  in  and  out  of 
the  house  at  all  hours  of  the  day  and  night.  The  women  seemed  to 
slink  on  their  way  to  market  and  were  without  neighborliness. 

These  submerged,  untouched  classes  were  beyond  the  scope  of  or- 
ganized charity  or  religion.  No  labor  union,  no  church,  not  even  the 
Salvation  Army  reached  them.  They  were  apprehensive  of  every- 


88  MARGARET   SANGER 

one  and  rejected  help  of  any  kind,  ordering  all  intruders  to  keep 
out ;  both  birth  and  death  they  considered  their  own  business.  Social 
agents,  who  were  just  beginning  to  appear,  were  profoundly  mis- 
trusted because  they  pried  into  homes  and  lives,  asking  questions 
about  wages,  how  many  were  in  the  family,  had  any  of  them  ever 
been  in  jail.  Often  two  or  three  had  been  there  or  were  now  under 
suspicion  of  prostitution,  shoplifting,  purse  snatching,  petty  thievery, 
and,  in  consequence,  passed  furtively  by  the  big  blue  uniforms  on 
the  corner. 
'  The  utmost  depression  came  over  me  as  I  approached  this  sur- 
reptitious region.  Below  Fourteenth  Street  I  seemed  to  be  breathing 
a  different  air,  to  be  in  another  world  and  country  where  the  people 
had  habits  and  customs  alien  to  anything  I  had  ever  heard  about. 
There  were  then  approximately  ten  thousand  apartments  in  New 
York  into  which  no  sun  ray  penetrated  directly;  such  windows  as 
they  had  opened  only  on  a  narrow  court  from  which  rose  fetid 
odors.  It  was  seldom  cleaned,  though  garbage  and  refuse  often  went 
down  into  it.  All  these  dwellings  were  pervaded  by  the  foul  breath 
of  poverty,  that  moldy,  indefinable,  indescribable  smell  which  can- 
not be  fumigated  out,  sickening  to  me  but  apparently  unnoticed  by 
those  who  lived  there.  When  I  set  to  work  with  antiseptics,  their 
pungent  sting,  at  least  temporarily,  obscured  the  stench* 

I  remember  one  confinement  case  to  which  I  was  called  by  the 
doctor  of  an  insurance  company.  I  climbed  up  the  five  flights  and 
entered  the  airless  rooms,  but  the  baby  had  come  with  too  great 
speed.  A  boy  of  ten  had  been  the  only  assistant.  Five  flights  was  a 
long  way;  he  had  wrapped  the  placenta  in  a  piece  of  newspaper  and 
dropped  it  out  the  window  into  the  court. 

any  families  took  in  "boarders,"  as  they  were  termed,  whose 
small  contributions  paid  the  rent.  These  derelicts,  wanderers,  alter- 
nately working  and  drinking,  were  crowded  in  with  the  children; 
a  single  room  sometimes  held  as  many  as  six  sleepers.  Little  girls 
were  accustomed  to  dressing  and  undressing  in  front  of  the  men, 
and  were  often  violated,  occasionally  by  their  own  fathers  or 
brothers,  before  they  reached  the  age  of  puberty.    * 

;  Pregnancy  was  a  chronic  condition  among  the  women  of  this 
class.  Suggestions  as  to  what  to  do  for  a  girl  who  was  "in  trouble" 


THE   TURBID   EBB    AND    FLOW   OF   MISERY  89 

or  a  married  woman  who  was  "caught"  passed  from  mouth  to  mouth 
— herb  teas,  turpentine,  steaming,  rolling  downstairs,  inserting  slip- 
pery elm,  knitting  needles,  shoe-hooks.  When  they  had  word  of  a 
new  remedy  they  hurried  to  the  drugstore,  and  if  the  clerk  were 
inclined  to  be  friendly  he  might  sa^,  "Oh,  that  won't  help  you,  but 
here's  something  that  may."  The  younger  druggists  usually  refused 
to  give  advice  because,  if  it  were  to  be  known,  they  would  come 
under  the  law;  midwives  were  even  more  fearful.  The  doomed 
women  implored  me  to  reveal  the  "secret"  rich  people  had,  offering 
to  pay  me  extra  to  tell  them;  many  really  believed  I  was  holding 
back  information  for  money,;  They  asked  everybody  and  tried  any- 
thing, but  nothing  did  them  any  good.  On  Saturday  nights  I  have 
seen  groups  of  from  fifty  to  one  hundred  with  their  shawls  over 
their  heads  waiting  outside  the  office  of  a  five-dollar  abortionist. 

Each  time  I  returned  to  this  district,  which  was  becoming  a  re- 
current nightmare,  I  used  to  hear  that  Mrs.  Cohen  "had  been  car- 
ried to  a  hospital,  but  had  never  come  back,'*  or  that  Mrs.  Kelly 
"had  sent  the  children  to  a  neighbor  and  had  put  her  head  into  the 
gas  oven."  Day  after  day  such  tales  were  poured  into  my  ears — a 
baby  born  dead,  great  relief — the  death  of  an  older  child,  sorrow 
but  again  relief  of  a  sort — the  story  told  a  thousand  times  of  death^ 
from  abortion  and  children  going  into  institutions.  I  shuddered 
with  horror  as  I  listened  to  the  details  and  studied  the  reasons  back 
of  them — destitution  linked  with  excessive  childbearing.  The  waste 
of  life  seemed  utterly  senseless.  One  by  one  worried,  sad,  pensive, 
and  aging  faces  marshaled  themselves  before  me  in  my  dreams, 
sometimes  appealingly,  sometimes  accusingly. 

These  were  not  merely  "unfortunate  conditions  among  the  poor" 
such  as  we  read  about.  I  knew  the  women  personally.  They  were 
living,  breathing,  human  beings,  with  hopes,  fears,  and  aspirations 
like  my  own,  yet  their  weary,  misshapen  bodies,  "always  ailing, 
never  failing,"  were  destined  to  be  thrown  on  tjie  scrap  heap  before 
they  were  thirty-five.  I  could  not  escape  from  the  facts  of  their 
wretchedness;  neither  was  I  able  to  see  any  way  out.  My  own  cozy 
and  comfortable  family  existence  was  becoming  a  reproach  to  me. 

Then  one  stifling  mid-Tuly  day  of  191 2  I  was  summoned  to  a 
Grand  Street  tenement.  My  patient  was  a  small,  slight  Russian 


90  MARGARET    SANGER 

Jewess,  about  twenty-eight  years  old,  of  the  special  cast  of  feature 
to  which  suffering  lends  a  madonna-like  expression.  The  cramped 
three-room  apartment  was  in  a  sorry  state  of  turmoil.  Jake  Sachs, 
a  truck  driver  scarcely  older  than  his  wife,  had  come  home  to  find 
the  three  children  crying  and  her  unconscious  from  the  effects  of  a 
self -induced  abortion.  He  had  called  the  nearest  doctor,  who  in  turn 
had  sent  for  me.  Jake's  earnings  were  trifling,  and  most  of  them 
had  gone  to  keep  the  none-too-strong  children  clean  and  properly 
fed.  But  his  wife's  ingenuity  had  helped  them  to  save  a  little,  and 
this  he  was  glad  to  spend  on  a  nurse  rather  than  have  her  go  to  a 
hospital. 

The  doctor  and  I  settled  ourselves  to  the  task  of  fighting  the 
septicemia.  Never  had  I  worked  so  fast,  never  so  concentratedly. 
The  sultry  days  and  nights  were  melted  into  a  torpid  inferno.  It 
did  not  seem  possible  there  could  be  such  heat,  and  every  bit  of 
food,  ice,  and  drugs  had  to  be  carried  up  three  flights  of  stairs. 

Jake  was  more  kind  and  thoughtful  than  many  of  the  husbands 
I  had  encountered.  He  loved  his  children,  and  had  always  helped  his 
wife  wash  and  dress  them.  He  had  brought  water  up  and  carried 
garbage  down  before  he  left  in  the  morning,  and  did  as  much  as 
he  could  for  me  while  he  anxiously  watched  her  progress. 

After  a  fortnight  Mrs.  Sachs'  recovery  was  in  sight.  Neighbors, 
ordinarily  fatalistic  as  to  the  results  of  abortion,  were  genuinely 
pleased  that  she  had  survived.  She  smiled  wanly  at  all  who  came  to 
see  her  and  thanked  them  gently,  but  she  could  not  respond  to  their 
hearty  congratulations.  She  appeared  to  be  more  despondent  and 
anxious  than  she  should  have  been,  and  spent  too  much  time  in 
meditation. 

At  the  end  of  three  weeks,  as  I  was  preparing  to  leave  the  fragile 
patient  to  take  up  her  difficult  life  once  more,  she  finally  voiced  her 
fears,  "Another  baby  will  finish  me,  I  suppose?" 

"It's  too  early  to  talk  about  that,"  I  temporized. 

But  when  the  doctor  came  to  make  his  last  call,  I  drew  him  aside. 
"Mrs.  Sachs  is  terribly  worried  about  having  another  baby." 

"She  well  may  be,"  replied  the  doctor,  and  then  he  stood  before 
her  and  said,  "Any  more  such  capers,  young  woman,  and  there'll  be 
no  need  to  send  for  me." 


THE   TURBID   EBB    AND   FLOW   OF   MISERY  gi 

"I  know,  doctor,"  she  replied  timidly,  "but,"  and  she  hesitated  as 
though  it  took  all  her  courage  to  say  it,  "what  can  I  do  to  prevent 
it?" 

The  doctor  was  a  kindly  man,  and  he  had  worked  hard  to  save 
her,  but  such  incidents  had  become  so  familiar  to  him  that  he  had 
long  since  lost  whatever  delicacy  he  might  once  have  had.  He  laughed 
good-naturedly.  ;'You  want  to  have  your  cake  and  eat  it  too,  do 
you?  Well,  it  can't  be  done."  . 

Then  picking  up  his  hat  and  bag  to  depart  he  said,  "Tell  Jake 
to  sleep  on  the  roof." 

I  glanced  quickly  at  Mrs.  Sachs.  Even  through  my  sudden  tears 
I  could  see  stamped  on  her  face  an  expression  of  absolute  despair. 
We  simply  looked  at  each  other,  saying  no  word  until  the  door 
had  closed  behind  the  doctor.  Then  she  lifted  her  thin,  blue-veined 
hands  and  clasped  them  beseechingly.  "He  can't  understand.  He's 
only  a  man.  But  you  do,  don't  you?  Please  tell  me  the  secret,  and 
I'll  never  breathe  it  to  a  soul.  Please!" 

What  was  I  to  do?  I  could  not  speak  the  conventionally  comfort- 
ing phrases  which  would  be  of  no  comfort.  Instead,  I  made  her  as 
physically  easy  as  I  could  and  promised  to  come  back  in  a  few  days 
to  talk  with  her  again.  A  little  later,  when  she  slept,  I  tiptoed  away. 

Night  after  night  the  wistful  image  of  Mrs.  Sachs  appeared  be- 
fore me.  I  made  all  sorts  of  excuses  to  myself  for  not  going  back. 
I  was  busy  on  other  cases;  I  really  did  not  know  what  to  say  to 
her  or  how  to  convince  her  of  my  own  ignorance;  I  was  helpless  to 
avert  such  monstrous  atrocities.  Time  rolled  by  and  I  did  nothing. 

The  telephone  rang  one  evening  three  months  later,  and  Jake 
Sachs'  agitated  voice  begged  me  to  come  at  once;  his  wife  was  sick 
again  and  from  the  same  cause! \For  a  wild  moment  I  thought  of 
sending  someone  else,  but  actually,  of  course,  I  hurried  into  my  uni- 
form, caught  up  my  bag,  and  started  out.  All  the  way  I  longed  for  a 
subway  wreck,  an  explosion,  anything  to  keep  me  from  having  to 
enter  that  home  again.  But  nothing  happened,  even  to  delay  me.  I 
turned  into  the  dingy  doorway  and  climbed  the  familiar  stairs  once 
more.  The  children  were  there,  young  little  things. 

Mrs.  Sachs  was  in  a  coma  and  died  within  ten  minutes.,  I  folded  I 
her  still  hands  across  her  breast,  remembering  how  they  had  pleaded 


92  MARGARET   SANGER 

with  me,  begging  so  humbly  for  the  knowledge  which  was  her  right. 
I  drew  a  sheet  over  her  pallid  face.  Jake  was  sobbing,  running  his 
hands  through  his  hair  and  pulling  it  out  like  an  insane  person.  Over 
and  over  again  he  wailed,  "My  God !  My  God !  My  God !" 


I  left  him  pacing  desperately  back  and  forth,  and  for  hours  I  my- 
self walked  and  walked  and  walked  through  the  hushed  streets. 
When  I  finally  arrived  home  and  let  myself  quietly  in,  all  the  house- 
hold was  sleeping.  I  looked  out  my  window  and  down  upon  the 
dimly  lighted  city.  Its  pains  and  griefs  crowded  in  upon  me,  a  mov- 
ing picture  rolled  before  my  eyes  with  photographic  clearness: 
women  writhing  in  travail  to  bring  forth  little  babies;  the  babies 
themselves  naked  and  hungry,  wrapped  in  newspapers  to  keep  them 
from  the  cold;  six-year-old  children  with  pinched,  pale,  wrinkled 
faces,  old  in  concentrated  wretchedness,  pushed  into  gray  and  fetid 
cellars,  crouching  on  stone  floors,  their  small  scrawny  hands  scut- 
tling through  rags,  making  lamp  shades,  artificial  flowers;  white 
coffins,  black  coffins,  coffins,  coffins  interminably  passing  in  never- 
ending  succession.  The  scenes  piled  one  upon  another  on  another. 
I  could  bear  it  no  longer. 

As  I  stood  there  the  darkness  faded.  The  sun  came  up  and  threw 
its  reflection  over  the  house  tops.  It  was  the  dawn  of  a  new  day 
in  my  life  also.  The  doubt  and  questioning,  the  experimenting  and 
trying,  were  now  to  be  put  behind  me.  ft  knew  I  could  not  go  back 
merely  to  keeping  people  alive.  , 

>  I  went  to  bed,  knowing  that  no  matter  what  it  might  cost,  I  was 
finished  with  palliatives  and  superficial  cures ;  I  was  resolved  to  seek 
out  the  root  of  evil,  to  do  something  to  change  the  destiny  of 


mothers  whose  miseries  were  vast  as  the  sky. 


Chapter  Eight 


I  HAVE  PROMISES  TO  KEEP 


HOW  were  mothers  to  be  saved?  I  went  through  many  revolv- 
ing doors,  looked  around,  and,  not  finding  what  I  was  seek- 
ing, came  out  again.  I  talked  incessantly  to  everybody  who  seemed 
to  have  social  welfare  at  heart.  Progressive  women  whom  I  con- 
sulted were  thoroughly  discouraging.  "Wait  until  we  get  the  vote. 
Then  we'll  take  care  of  that,"  they  assured  me.  I  tried  the  Social- 
ists. Here,  there,  and  everywhere  the  reply  came,  "Wait  until  women 
have  more  education.  Wait  until  we  secure  equal  distribution  of 
wealth."  Wait  for  this  and  wait  for  that.  Wait!  Wait!  Wait! 

Having  no  idea  how  powerful  were  the  laws  which  laid  a 
blanket  of  ignorance  over  the  medical  profession  as  well  as  the  laity, 
I  asked  various  doctors  of  my  acquaintance,  "Why  aren't  physicians 
doing  something?" 

"The  people  you're  worrying  about  wouldn't  use  contraception 
if  they  had  it;  they  breed  like  rabbits.  And,  besides,  there's  a  law 
against  it." 

"Information  does  exist,  doesn't  it?" 

"Perhaps,  but  I  doubt  whether  you  can  find  it.  Even  if  you  do, 
you  can't  pass  it  on.  Comstock'll  get  you  if  you  don't  watch  out." 

In  order  to  ascertain  something  about  this  subject  which  was 
so  mysterious  and  so  unaccountably  forbidden,  I  spent  almost  a 
year  in  the  libraries — the  Astor,  the  Lenox,  the  Academy  of  Medi- 
cine, the  Library  of  Congress,  and  dozens  of  others.  Hoping  that 

93 


94  MARGARET    SANGER 

psychological  treatises  might  inform  me,  I  read  Auguste  Forel 
and  Iwan  Block.  At  one  gulp  I  swallowed  Havelock  Ellis'  Psychol- 
ogy of  Sex,  and  had  psychic  indigestion  for  months  thereafter.  I 
was  not  shocked,  but  this  mountainous  array  of  abnormalities  made 
me  spiritually  ill.  So  many  volumes  were  devoted  to  the  exceptional, 
and  so  few  to  the  maladjustments  of  normal  married  people,  which 
were  infinitely  more  numerous  and  urgent. 

I  read  translations  from  the  German  in  which  women  were  ad- 
vised to  have  more  children  because  it  could  be  proved  statistically 
that  their  condition  was  improved  by  childbearing!  The  only  article 
on  the  question  I  could  discover  in  American  literature  was  in  the 
Atlantic  Monthly  by  Edward  Alsworth  Ross  of  the  University  of 
Wisconsin,  who  brought  to  the  attention  of  his  readers  the  decline 
of  the  birth  rate  among  the  upper  and  educated  classes  and  the  in- 
crease among  the  unfit,  the  consequences  of  which  were  sure  to  be 
race  suicide. 

The  Englishman,  Thomas  Robert  Malthus,  remained  little  more 
than  a  name  to  me,  something  like  Plato  or  Henry  George.  Father 
had  talked  about  him,  but  he  meant  mostly  agriculture — wheat  and 
food  supplies  in  the  national  sense.  Possibly  he  had  a  philosophy  but 
not,  to  me,  a  live  one.  He  had  been  put  away  on  a  shelf  and,  in  my 
mind,  had  nothing  to  do  with  the  everyday  human  problem.  I  was 
not  looking  for  theories.  What  I  desired  was  merely  a  simple  method 
of  contraception  for  the  poor. 

The  pursuit  of  my  quest  took  me  away  from  home  a  good  deal. 
The  children  used  to  come  in  after  school  and  at  once  hunt  for  me. 
"Where's  mother?"  was  the  usual  question.  If  they  found  me  at  my 
mending  basket  they  all  leaped  about  for  joy,  took  hands  and  danced, 
shouting,  "Mother's  home,  mother's  home,  mother's  sewing."  Sew- 
ing seemed  to  imply  a  measure  of  permanence. 

I,  too,  wanted  to  drive  away  the  foreboding  barrier  of  separation 
by  closer  contact  with  them.  I  wanted  to  have  them  solely  to  myself, 
to  feed,  to  bathe,  to  clothe  them  myself.  I  had  heard  of  the  clean, 
wind-swept  Cape  Cod  dunes,  which  appeared  to  be  as  far  from  the 
ugliness  of  civilization  as  I  could  get.  Socialism,  anarchism,  syndi- 
calism, progressivism — I  was  tired  of  them  all.  At  the  end  of  the 
spring,  thoroughly  depressed  and  dissatisfied,  I  tucked  the  children 


I    HAVE   PROMISES   TO    KEEP  95 

under  my  arms,  boarded  a  Fall  River  boat,  and  sailed  off,  a  pioneer 
to  Provincetown. 

In  191 3  the  tip  of  the  Cape  was  nothing  but  a  fishing  village  with 
one  planked  walk  which,  I  was  told,  had  been  paid  for  by  Congress. 
Up  and  down  its  length  the  bellman,  the  last  of  the  town  criers, 
walked,  proclaiming  the  news. 

At  first  we  lived  in  the  upper  story  of  a  fisherman's  house  right 
on  the  water.  After  he  went  out  in  the  morning,  his  wife  and  her 
children,  and  I  and  mine,  were  left  alone.  Then  the  old  women 
recalled  scenes  from  their  early  days  on  the  whaling  vessels.  Their 
mothers  had  brought  them  forth  unaided,  and  their  own  sons,  in 
turn,  had  been  born  on  the  ships  and  apprenticed  to  their  husbands. 
They  fitted  into  life  simply,  but  the  younger  Portuguese,  who  were 
taking  over  the  fishing  industry,  were  asking  what  they  should  do 
about  limiting  their  families. 

The  village  was  rather  messy  and  smelled  of  fish.  I  was  still  too 
close  to  humanity  and  wanted  to  be  more  alone,  so  we  moved  to  the 
extreme  end  of  town.  Our  veranda  faced  the  Bay,  and  when  the 
tide  was  high  the  water  came  up  and  lapped  at  the  piles  on  which 
the  cottage  was  built.  Stuart,  Grant,  and  Peggy  used  to  sit  on  the 
steps  and  dabble  their  toes.  At  low  tide  they  had  two  miles  of  beach 
on  which  to  skip  and  run;  it  was  a  wonderful  place  to  play,  and  all 
summer  we  had  sunrise  breakfasts,  sunset  picnics. 
^  Ethel,  who  had  married  Jack  Byrne,  was  now  widowed  and  had 
also  gone  into  nursing.  She  had  considerable  free  time  and  stayed 
with  me.  Consequently,  I  was  able  to  leave  the  children  in  her  care 
when  I  made  my  expeditions  to  Boston's  far-famed  public  library, 
taking  the  Dorothy  Bradford  at  noon,  and  coming  back  the  next 
day.  Even  there  I  found  no  information  more  reliable  than  that  ex- 
changed by  back- fence  gossips  in  any  small  town. 

I  spent  the  entire  season  at  Provincetown,  groping  for  knowl- 
edge, classifying  all  my  past  activities  in  their  proper  categories, 
weighing  the  pros  and  cons  of  what  good  there  was  in  them  and 
also  what  they  lacked.  It  was  a  period  of  gestation.  Just  as  you  give 
birth  to  a  child,  so  you  can  give  birth  to  an  idea. 

Between  interims  of  brooding  and  playing  with  the  children  I 
took  part  in  the  diversions  of  the  minute  colony  of  congenial  peo- 


g6  MARGARET    SANGER 

pie.  Charles  Hawthorne  had  a  school  of  painting,  and  Mary  Heaton 
Vorse  with  her  husband,  Joseph  O'Brien,  were  there;  so  also  were 
Hutch  Hapgood  and  Neith  Boyce.  Jessie  Ashley  had  lifted  Big 
Bill  Haywood  out  of  the  slough  of  the  Paterson  strike  and  brought 
him  down  to  rest  and  recuperate. 

Big  Bill  was  one  of  the  few  who  saw  what  I  was  aiming  at,  al- 
though fearful  that  my  future  might  involve  the  happiness  of  my 
children.  Even  he  did  not  feel  that  the  small- family  question  was 
significant  enough  to  be  injected  into  the  labor  platform.  Neverthe- 
less, as  we  rambled  up  and  down  the  beach  he  came  to  my  aid  with 
that  cheering  encouragement  of  which  I  was  so  sorely  in  need.  He 
never  wasted  words  in  advising  me  to  "wait."  Instead,  he  suggested 
that  I  go  to  France  and  see  for  myself  the  conditions  resulting 
from  generations  of  family  limitation  in  that  country.  This  struck 
me  as  a  splendid  idea,  because  it  would  also  give  Bill  Sanger  a  chance 
to  paint  instead  of  continuing  to  build  suburban  houses. 
r  The  trip  to  Europe  seemed  so  urgent  that  no  matter  what  sacrifices 
had  to  be  made,  we  decided  to  make  them  when  we  came  to  them. 
In  the  fall  we  sold  the  house  at  Hastings,  gave  away  some  of  our 
furniture  and  put  the  rest  in  storage.  Although  we  did  not  realize 
it  at  the  time,  our  gestures  indicated  a  clean  sweep  of  the  past. 

Anita  Block  proposed  that  we  go  via  Scotland ;  she  wanted  me  to 
write  three  or  four  articles  on  what  twenty-five  years  of  municipal 
ownership  in  Glasgow  had  done  for  women  and  children.  Socialists 
were  talking  about  how  everything  there  belonged  to  the  people 
themselves  and  had  earned  their  own  way — banks,  schools,  homes, 
parks,  markets,  art  galleries,  museums,  laundries,  bath  houses,  hos- 
pitals, and  tramways.  The  city  was  about  to  pay  off  the  last  debt 
on  the  transportation  system,  and  this  was  being  hailed  as  a  great 
victory,  a  perfect  example  of  what  Socialism  could  do.  It  sounded 
big  and  fine,  and  I,  too,  was  impressed.  Certainly  in  Glasgow,  I 
thought,  I  should  find  women  walking  hand  in  hand  with  men,  and 
children  free  and  happy. 

In  October  the  Sangers  sailed  from  Boston  on  a  cabin  boat,  little 
and  crowded,  and  one  black  night  two  weeks  later  steamed  up  the 
Clyde.  The  naval  program  of  191 3  was  causing  every  shipyard  to 
run  double  shifts,  and  the  flare  and  glare  against  the  somber  dark 


I   HAVE   PROMISES   TO   KEEP  97 

was  like  fairyland — giant,  sparkling  starlights  reaching  from  the 
horizon  into  the  sky,  a  beautiful  introduction  to  Utopia. 

The  very  next  day  I  started  out  upon  my  investigationsj  To  mind 
the  children,  aged  nine,  five,  and  three,  I  availed  myself  of  a  sort 
of  employment  bureau  run  by  the  Municipal  Corporation.  I  had 
been  told  that  anyone  could  call  here  for  any  imaginable  type  of 
service.  In  response  to  my  summons,  there  promptly  arrived  at  my 
door,  standing  straight  and  machine-like,  a  small  boy  in  a  buttons 
uniform,  with  chin  strap  holding  his  cap  on  the  side  of  his  head. 
Willie  MacGuire's  stipend  was  to  be  twelve  cents  an  hour,  or  fifty 
cents  for  the  half  day.  His  function  was  to  take  the  three  out,  en- 
tertain them,  and  return  them  faithfully  at  any  time  designated. 
Though  he  was  no  bigger  than  Stuart,  his  efficient  manner  reas- 
sured me,  and  I  soon  learned  that  he  performed  his  duties  diligently. 

Religiously  I  made  the  rounds  of  all  the  social  institutions,  and 
at  first  everything  appeared  as  I  had  been  led  to  expect — except  the 
weather.  It  had  always  just  rained,  and,  when  the  sun  did  show  itself, 
it  was  seldom  for  long  enough  to  dry  up  the  walks.  Though  the 
streets  were  clean,  they  were  invariably  wet  and  damp,  and  nobody 
wore  rubbers.  Everywhere  could  be  seen  little  girls  down  on  their 
knees,  scrubbing  the  door-steps  in  front  of  the  houses,  or,  again, 
carrying  huge  bundles  or  baskets  of  groceries  to  be  delivered  at  the 
homes  of  the  buyers.  The  people  themselves  seemed  cold  and  rigid, 
as  dismal  as  their  climate.  Only  the  policemen  had  a  sense  of  humor. 

As  I  proceeded,  flaws  in  the  vaunted  civic  enterprises  began  to 
display  themselves.  Glasgow  had  its  show  beauty  spots,  but  even 
the  model  tenements  were  not  so  good  as  our  simplest,  lower-middle- 
class  apartment  buildings.  One  had  been  constructed  for  the  accom- 
modation of  "deserving  and  respectable  widows  and  widowers  be- 
longing to  the  working  class"  having  one  or  more  children  with 
no  one  to  care  for  them  while  the  parents  were  away.  But  the  build- 
ing had  been  turned  over  to  the  exclusive  use  of  widowers.  Widows 
and  their  children  had  to  shift  for  themselves. 

All  tenements  were  planned  scientifically  on  the  basis  of  so  many 
cubic  feet  of  air  and  so  much  light  per  so  many  human  beings,  rang- 
ing from  quarters  for  two  to  those  for  five.  No  overcrowding  was 
allowed. 


98  MARGARET    SANGER 

"Well,"  I  asked,  "what  happens  when  there  are  five  or  six  chil- 
dren?" 

"Oh,  they  can't  live  here,"  replied  the  superintendent.  "They  must 
go  elsewhere." 

"But  where?" 

Conversation  ceased. 

With  particular  attention  I  traced  the  adventures  of  one  family 
which  had  expanded  beyond  the  three-child  limit.  The  parents  had  first 
moved  over  to  the  fringes  of  the  city,  and  thereafter  as  more  chil- 
dren were  born  had  traveled  from  place  to  place,  progressively  more 
dingy,  more  decrepit.  They  now  had  nine  and  were  inhabiting  a  hovel 
in  the  shipbuilding  slums,  unimaginably  filthy  and  too  far  from  the 
splendid  utilities  ever  to  enjoy  them. 

The  further  I  looked,  the  greater  grew  the  inconsistency.  The 
model  markets  carried  chiefly  wholesale  produce,  and  the  really  poor, 
who  were  obliged  to  huddle  on  the  far  side  of  the  city,  contented 
themselves  with  bread  and  tea  and  were  thankful  to  have  it.  An- 
other disappointment  was  the  washhouses,  dating  from  1878  when 
they  had  been  deemed  a  public  necessity  because  men  had  protested 
they  were  being  driven  from  their  homes  by  washing  which,  on  ac- 
count of  the  incessant  rain,  seemed  to  hang  there  forever.  A  stall 
cost  only  twopence  an  hour,  less  expensive  than  heating  water  at 
home,  and  there  were  always  women  waiting  in  line.  But  the  tram 
system,  which  was  on  the  point  of  being  liquidated  in  spite  of  its 
low  fares,  forbade  laundry  baskets,  and,  consequently,  those  who 
were  not  within  walking  distance — and  they  were  the  ones  who 
needed  it  most — were  deprived  of  its  use. 

Throughout  the  slum  section  I  saw  drunken,  sodden  women 
whose  remaining,  snag-like  teeth  stuck  down  like  fangs  and  pro- 
truded from  their  sunken  mouths.  When  I  asked  one  of  the  execu- 
tive officers  of  the  corporation  why  they  were  so  much  more  de- 
graded than  the  men,  he  replied,  "Oh,  the  women  of  Glasgow  are 
all  dirty  and  low.  They're  hopeless." 

"But  why  should  this  be?"  I  persisted. 

His  only  answer  was,  "It's  their  own  fault." 

Bill  and  I  walked  about  late  at  night,  overwhelmed  by  the  un- 
speakable poverty.  The  streets  were  filled  with  fighting,  shiftless  beg- 


I    HAVE   PROMISES   TO    KEEP  99 

gars.  Hundreds  of  women  were  abroad,  the  big  shawls  over  their 
heads  serving  two  purposes:  one,  to  keep  their  shoulders  warm; 
the  other,  to  wrap  around  the  baby  which  each  one  carried.  It  was 
apparent  that  their  clothing  consisted  only  of  a  shawl,  a  petticoat, 
a  wrapper,  and  shoes.  Older  children  were  begging,  "A  ha'penny 
for  bread,  Missus,  a  ha'penny  for  bread." 

It  was  infinitely  cold,  dreary,  and  disappointing — so  much  talk 
about  more  wages  and  better  subsistence,  and  here  the  workers  had 
it  and  what  were  they  getting? — a  little  more  light,  perhaps,  a  few 
more  pennies  a  day,  the  opportunity  to  buy  food  a  little  more 
cheaply,  a  few  parks  in  which  they  could  wander,  a  bank  where 
their  money  earned  a  fraction  more  interest.  But  as  soon  as  they 
passed  beyond  the  border  of  another  baby,  they  were  in  exactly  the 
same  condition  as  the  people  beyond  the  realm  of  municipal  control. 

Municipal  ownership  was  one  more  thing  to  throw  in  the  discard. 

One  dull,  rainy  day,  glad  to  leave  behind  the  shrill,  crying  voices 
of  the  beggars  of  Glasgow,  we  boarded  a  horrid  cattle  boat  bound 
for  Antwerp.  The  children  were  all  seasick  as  we  bounced  and  tossed 
over  the  North  Sea.  It  was  something  of  a  job  to  handle  the  three 
of  them  with  no  nurse,  especially  when  the  storm  threw  them  out 
of  their  beds  on  to  the  cabin  vfloor.  Fortunately  they  suffered  no 
fractures,  although  twenty-six  horses  in  the  hold  had  to  be  shot 
because  their  legs  had  been  broken. 

We  arrived  at  the  Gare  du  Nord  in  Paris  at  the  end  of  another 
dismal,  bewildering  day — toot-toot !  steam,  luggage,  brusque  snatch- 
ing by  blue-smocked,  black-capped  porters,  all  looking  like  villains, 
jam  at  the  ticket  gate,  rackety  taxi  to  a  hotel  on  the  Left  Bank. 

Paris  seemed  another  Glasgow,  more  like  a  provincial  village  than 
a  great  metropolis.  The  atmosphere  of  petty  penury  destroyed  my 
dreams  of  Parisian  gaiety  and  elegance;  even  the  French  children 
were  dressed  in  drab,  gloomy,  black  aprons.  Within  a  few  days 
we  had  sub-let  an  apartment  on  the  Boulevard  St.  Michel  across 
from  the  Luxembourg  Gardens  where  Grant  and  Peggy  could  play. 
It  was  four  flights  up,  and  the  cold  penetrated  to  the  marrow  of  our 
bones.  We  could  put  tons  of  briquets  into  the  little  fireplaces  and 
never  get  any  heat.  All  the  family  went  into  flannel  underwear,  the 
first  since  my  early  childhood. 


IOO  MARGARET   SANGER 

I  presented  Stuart  to  the  superintendent  of  the  district  lycee.  He 
demanded  a  birth  certificate,  and  I  had  none. 

"But  without  it  how  can  I  tell  where  he  was  born  or  how  old  he 
is?"  The  official  seemed  to  imply  that  Stuart  did  not  exist. 

"But,"  I  protested,  "here  he  is.  He's  alive." 

"No,  no,  Madame !  The  law  says  you  must  have  a  birth  certificate." 

I  had  to  send  him  to  a  private  school,  which  was  something  of 
a  drain  on  the  budget. 

Bill  found  a  studio  on  Montparnasse,  just  back  of  the  Station. 
Again  and  again  he  came  home  aglow  with  news  of  meeting  the 
great  Matisse  and  other  revolutionary  painters  barely  emerging  from 
obscurity.  I  trailed  around  to  studios  and  exhibits  occasionally,  but 
I  was  trying  to  become  articulate  on  my  own  subject,  and  paid  scant 
attention  to  those  who  loomed  up  later  as  giants  in  the  artistic  world. 
The  companionship  of  Jessie  Ashley  and  Bill  Haywood,  who  had 
just  come  to  Paris,  was  more  familiar  to  me. 

I  was  also  eager  to  encounter  French  people  and  discover  their 
points  of  view.  One  of  the  first  was  Victor  Dave,  the  last  surviving 
leader  of  the  French  Commune  of  1871.  Thanksgiving  Day  we 
had  a  little  dinner  party  and  invited  American  friends  to  greet  him. 
He  was  then  over  eighty,  but  still  keen  and  active.  As  the  evening 
wore  on  we  started  him  talking  about  his  past  experiences  and  he 
held  us  enthralled  until  way  into  the  morning,  when  we  all  had 
breakfast  in  the  apartment. 

The  old  Communard  spoke  English  far  better  than  any  of  us 
spoke  French.  He  was  now  making  three  dollars  a  week  by  his 
linguistic  abilities,  because  he  was  the  sole  person  the  Government 
could  call  upon  not  only  for  the  language  but  the  dialects  of  the 
Balkans.  Just  the  day  before  he  had  been  translating  a  new  series  of 
treaties  which  France  was  making  with  the  Balkan  States  in  a  des- 
perate attempt  to  tie  them  to  the  Triple  Entente.  Though  he  was 
a  philosophical  person  who  could  be  gay  over  his  own  hardships, 
his  confidences  to  us  were  serious  and  sad.  From  the  agreements 
then  being  drawn  up,  particularly  those  with  Rumania,  he  could  see 
nothing  but  war  ahead,  predicting  definitely  that  within  five  years 
all  nations  would  be  at  each  other's  throats.  We  newcomers  to  Eu- 
rope could  not  grasp  the  meaning  of  his  words,  and  the  residents 


I    HAVE   PROMISES   TO    KEEP  IOI 

shrugged  their  shoulders  and  said,  "He  is  getting  old.  He  cannot 
see  that  we  are  now  beyond  war,  that  people  are  too  intelligent  ever 
to  resort  to  it  again." 

As  I  look  back  it  is  apparent  that  we  heard  in  France  the  whole 
rumblings  of  the  World  War.  Unrest  was  in  the  air  as  it  had  been 
in  the  United  States,  but  with  a  difference.  Theaters  were  showing 
anti-German  plays,  revanche  placards  decorated  Napoleon's  tomb 
in  the  Invalides,  and  the  rusty  black  draperies  around  the  shrouded 
statue  of  Strasbourg  in  the  Place  de  la  Concorde  pointed  a  macabre 
note.  These  were  remembered  afterwards;  at  the  time  they  were 
merely  part  of  the  Paris  scene. 

I  realized  the  disadvantage  of  not  being  better  acquainted  with 
the  French  language,  and  started  in  to  practice  what  I  knew  and 
learn  more.  Good  fortune  brought  me  in  touch  with  an  English- 
woman, the  wife  of  the  editor  of  L'Humanite,  the  organ  of  the  Con- 
federation Generate  de  Travail,  the  famous  C.G.T.  To  her  I  clung 
and  at  her  home  I  met  the  Socialist  leader,  Jean  Jaures.  His  English 
was  bad  and  my  French  worse;  we  had  to  have  an  interpreter. 
Doubtless  we  missed  a  lot,  but  even  so  we  found  we  understood 
each  other.  I  believe  that  his  assassination  on  the  eve  of  the  war 
which  he  had  done  so  much  to  prevent  proved  an  irreparable  loss 
to  the  cause  of  peace. 

In  my  language  difficulties  Jessie  Ashley's  fluency  was  an  ever- 
present  help.  Together  we  used  to  eat  in  the  restaurants  frequented 
by  laborers,  who  came  in  groups,  keeping  their  caps  on,  enjoying  the 
cheap  and  good  food  accompanied  by  wine.  Often  we  were  the  only 
women  in  the  place,  always  excepting  the  inevitable  cashier. 

Though  women  were  rarely  seen  at  a  C.G.T.  meeting,  Victor 
Dave  took  Jessie  and  me  to  a  particularly  impressive  one  which  Bill 
Haywood  was  to  address.  His  reputation  as  a  firebrand  had  preceded 
him,  and  the  police  were  making  certain  that  no  riot  should  ensue; 
they  were  stopping  each  person  who  crossed  the  bridge  and  de- 
manding an  account  of  his  destination.  Our  passport  was  the  vener- 
able appearance  of  our  escort,  whose  long  white  hair  hung  low 
about  his  head.  His  top  hat,  that  universal  badge  of  respectability, 
let  us  through. 

The  vast  auditorium  was  filled  with  some  three  thousand  French 


102  MARGARET    SANGER 

syndicalists,  similar  to  the  American  I.W.W.'s,  all  standing,  all  wear- 
ing the  uniform  of  the  proletariat — black- visored  caps  and  loose 
corduroys.  They  were  being  urged  not  to  take  up  arms  against  the 
workers  of  other  nations.  I  began  to  wonder  whether  perhaps  the 
various  tokens  of  disquiet  which  had  impalpably  surrounded  me 
since  coming  to  France  had  some  more  desperate  meaning  than  we 
in  America  had  realized.  The  War,  What  For?  discussions  in  New 
York  had  seemed  only  a  part  of  the  evening  conversations.  Here  again 
I  was  listening  to  protests  against  government  efforts  to  arouse  na- 
tional hatred  by  calling  it  patriotism.  I  had  heard  the  words  so  often, 
" Workers  of  the  World,  Unite,"  yet  at  last  I  was  vaguely  uneasy  be- 
cause of  the  difference  in  spirit. 

As  we  emerged  into  the  narrow,  alley-like  street  we  found  the 
exits  into  the  boulevard  guarded  by  hundreds  of  gendarmes,  both 
mounted  and  afoot.  Had  any  outbreak  occurred,  the  assembled  syn- 
dicalists would  literally  have  been  trapped. 

My  uneasiness  was  increased  as  a  result  of  a  visit  to  the  Hindu 
nationalist,  Shyamaji  Krishnavarma.  In  England  he  had  been  an 
agitator  for  Indian  Home  Rule  and,  when  the  London  residence 
of  the  Viceroy  of  India  had  been  bombed,  with  other  Indians  who 
might  have  been  implicated,  he  had  fled  to  France,  so  long  the 
sanctuary  for  anyone  who,  because  of  political  beliefs,  got  into 
trouble  elsewhere.  Krishnavarma  was  now  editing  the  Indian  So- 
ciologist, which  was  being  secretly  spirited  across  the  Channel. 

Krishnavarma  had  asked  whether  he  might  be  permitted  to  give 
a  reception  in  my  honor.  No  Hindu  had  ever  given  a  reception  in 
my  honor.  Trying  to  appear,  however,  as  though  this  were  a  fre- 
quent occurrence,  I  set  a  time  and  bravely  entered  his  salon,  sup- 
ported, as  usual,  by  Jessie. 

About  twenty-five  men  were  there,  Indian  students  all,  and  only 
one  other  woman,  Mrs.  Krishnavarma,  barely  out  of  purdah  and 
still  in  native  dress.  As  a  great  concession  she  had  been  allowed  to 
come  in,  despite  the  presence  of  men.  It  was  evident  she  could  listen 
but  not  speak,  because,  when  I  asked  her  something  about  her  chil- 
dren, Krishnavarma  answered  for  her  quickly.  A  little  later  I  was 
disputing  a  point  with  him  and,  to  bolster  up  his  argument,  he  gave 


I    HAVE   PROMISES   TO    KEEP  IO3 

her  a  curt  command  in  Hindustani.  She  rose  swiftly  and  soon  re- 
turned with  a  well-thumbed  and  pencil-marked  copy  of  Spencer.  I 
had  come  to  consider  Spencer's  philosophy  old-fogyish.  His  teach- 
ings were  so  mild  that  I  wondered  what  in  the  world  he  could  ever 
have  been  hounded  for.  Though  Krishnavarma  was  working 
towards  the  freedom  of  India  he  had  gone  no  further  than  this 
pink  tea  which  was  not  even  pale  China,  let  alone  sturdy,  black 
Ceylon. 

I  had  been  home  scarcely  more  than  half  an  hour  and  was  dress- 
ing for  dinner  when  Peggy  ran  in  animatedly.  "Mother,  there  are 
three  soldiers  at  the  door!"  The  bright  uniforms  of  the  gendarmes 
had  taken  her  fancy,  and  she  was  pleased  and  excited.  When  I  went 
out  to  meet  them  they  demanded  to  know  where  we  had  come  from, 
the  object  of  our  visit  to  France,  how  long  we  intended  to  stay,  in 
what  manner  we  had  located  the  apartment,  from  whom  we  had 
rented  it,  where  I  had  been  that  afternoon,  the  length  of  time  I  had 
known  Krishnavarma,  and  the  reason  for  my  being  at  his  home. 
Finally,  they  explained  their  presence  by  saying  the  concierge  had 
not  sent  in  the  required  information  to  the  prefecture. 

When  I  described  the  strange  visitation  to  someone  familiar  with 
French  customs,  I  was  told  that  concierges  were  all  ex  officio  agents 
of  the  police  and  were  compelled  to  make  regular  reports  of  the 
activities,  no  matter  how  petty,  of  their  tenants.  These  were  in- 
corporated into  the  dossiers  of  all  foreigners.  Actually,  the  police, 
working  with  the  British  Secret  Service,  were  checking  up  on 
Krishnavarma's  callers.  Thereafter  gendarmes  lingered  in  doorways 
outside  our  apartment,  and  wherever  I  went  I  was  conscious  they 
were  in  the  vicinity. 

Because  of  the  predilection  of  the  French  for  quality  rather  than 
quantity,  they  had  not  only  adopted  the  sociological  definition  of 
proletariat,  "the  prolific  ones,"  a  term  originally  applied  by  the 
Romans  to  the  lowest  class  of  society,  but  had  interpreted  it  literally. 
The  syndicalists  in  particular  had  made  what  they  called  conscious 
generation  a  part  of  their  policy  and  principles,  and  had  affiliated 
themselves  with  the  Neo-Malthusian  movement,  which  had  its  head- 
quarters in  London. 


104  MARGARET   SANGER 

The  parents  of  France,  almost  on  the  same  wage  scale  as  those 
I  had  seen  in  Glasgow,  had  settled  the  matter  to  their  own  satisfac- 
tion. Their  one  or  two  children  were  given  all  the  care  and  advan- 
tages of  French  culture.  I  was  struck  with  the  motherly  attention 
bestowed  by  our  femme  de  chambre  upon  her  only  child.  She  came 
promptly  to  work,  but  nothing  could  persuade  her  to  arrive  before 
Jean  had  been  taken  to  his  school,  and  nothing  could  prevent  her 
leaving  promptly  at  noon  to  fetch  him  for  his  luncheon, 
j  When  Bill  Haywood  began  taking  me  into  the  homes  of  the  syn- 
dicalists, I  found  perfect  acceptance  of  family  limitation  and  its  re- 
lation to  labor.  V'Have  you  just  discovered  this?"  I  asked  each 
woman  I  met. 

"Oh,  no,  Maman  told  me." 

"Well,  who  told  her?" 

"Grandmere,  I  suppose." 

The  Code  Napoleon  had  provided  that  daughters  should  inherit 
equally  with  sons  and  this,  to  the  thrifty  peasant  mind,  had  indicated 
the  desirability  of  fewer  offspring.  Nobody  would  marry  a  girl 
unless  she  had  been  instructed  how  to  regulate  the  numbers  of  her 
household  as  well  as  the  home  itself. 

Some  of  the  contraceptive  formulas  which  had  been  handed  down 
were  almost  as  good  as  those  of  today.  Although  they  had  to  make 
simple  things,  mothers  prided  themselves  on  their  special  recipes 
for  suppositories  as  much  as  on  those  for  pot  au  feu  or  wine. 
/  All  individual  Frenchwomen  considered  this  knowledge  their  in- 
dividual right,  and,  if  it  failed,  abortion,  which  was  still  common.  I 
talked  about  the  problems  of  my  own  people,  but  they  could  give 
me  no  help,  merely  shrugging  their  shoulders,  apparently  glad  they 
were  living  in  France  and  not  in  the  United  States.  This  independ- 
ence of  thought  and  action  seemed  wholly  admirable  to  me  at  the 
time,  and  I  sang  the  praises  of  the  system. 

Bill  was  happy  in  his  studio,  but  I  could  find  no  peace.  Each  day 
I  stayed,  each  person  I  met,  made  it  worse.  A  whole  year  had  been 
given  over  to  this  inactive,  incoherent  brooding.  Family  and  friends 
had  been  generous  in  patience.  I  had  added  to  my  personal  ex- 
perience statistics  from  Glasgow  and  the  little  formulas  I  had  gath- 
ered from  the  French  peasants.  With  this  background  I  had  practi- 


I    HAVE    PROMISES    TO    KEEP  IO5 

cally  reached  the  exploding  point.  I  could  not  contain  my  ideas,  I 
wanted  to  get  on  with  what  I  had  to  do  in  the  world, 
j  The  last  day  of  the  year,  December  31,  191 3,  Bill  and  I  said 
good-by,  unaware  the  parting  was  to  be  final.  With  the  children  I 
embarked  at  Cherbourg  for  home. 


Chapter  Nine 


THE  WOMAN  REBEL 


'Oh  you  daughters  of  the  West! 
O  you  young  and  elder  daughters!  0  you  maidens  and  you 

women ! 
Never  must  you  be  divided,  in  our  ranks  you  move  united, 
Pioneers!  O  pioneers!" 

WALT  WHITMAN 


THE  New  York  was  a  nice  ship  and  it  was  not  too  wintry  to 
walk  about  on  deck.  After  the  children  were  safely  in  bed  I 
paced  round  and  round  and  absorbed  into  my  being  that  quiet  which 
comes  to  you  at  sea.  That  it  was  New  Year's  Eve  added  to  the  poign- 
ancy of  my  emotions  but  did  not  obscure  the  faith  within. 
i  I  knew  something  must  be  done  to  rescue  those  women  who  were 
voiceless ;  someone  had  to  express  with  white  hot  intensity  the  con- 
viction that  they  must  be  empowered  to  decide  for  themselves  when 
they  should  fulfill  the  supreme  function  of  motherhood.  They  had 
to  be  made  aware  of  how  they  were  being  shackled,  and  roused  to 
mutiny.  To  this  end  I  conceived  the  idea  of  a  magazine  to  be  called 
the  Woman  RehA  dedicated  to  the  interests  of  working  women. 

Often  I  had  thought  of  Vashti  as  the  first  woman  rebel  in  history. 
Once  when  her  husband,  King  Ahasuerus,  had  been  showing  off  to 
his  people  his  fine  linens,  his  pillars  of  marble,  his  beds  of  gold  and 
silver,  and  all  his  riches,  he  had  commanded  that  his  beautiful 
Queen  Vashti  also  be  put  on  view.  But  she  had  declined  to  be  ex- 
hibited as  a  possession  or  chattel.  Because  of  her  disobedience,  which 
might  set  a  very  bad  example  to  other  wives,  she  had  been  cast  aside 
and  Ahasuerus  had  chosen  a  new  bride,  the  meek  and  gentle  Esther. 

I  wanted  each  woman  to  be  a  rebellious  Vashti,  not  an  Esther; 

106 


THE    WOMAN    REBEL  IO7 

was  she  to  be  merely  a  washboard  with  only  one  song,  one  song? 
Surely,  she  should  be  allowed  to  develop  all  her  potentialities.^em- 
inists  were  trying  to  free  her  from  the  new  economic  ideology  but 
were  doing  nothing  to  free  her  from  her  biological  subserv1*^11^  to 
man,  which  was  the  true  cause  of  her  enslavement. 
^  Before  gathering  friends  around  me  for  that  help  which  I  must 
have  in  stirring  women  to  sedition,  before  asking  them  to  believe, 
I  had  to  chart  my  own  course.  Should  I  bring  the  cause  to  the  atten- 
tion of  the  people  by  headlines  and  front  pages?  Should  I  follow  my 
own  compulsion  regardless  of  extreme  consequences? 

I  fully  recognized  I  must  refrain  from  acts  which  I  could  not 
carry  through.  So  many  movements  had  been  issuing  defiances  with- 
out any  ultimate  goal,  shooting  off  a  popgun  here,  a  popgun  there, 
and  finally  shooting  themselves  to  death.  They  had  been  too  greatly 
resembling  froth — too  noisy  with  the  screech  of  tin  horns  and  other 
cheap  instruments  instead  of  the  deeper  sounds  of  an  outraged, 
angry,  serious  people. 

With  as  crystal  a  view  as  that  which  had  come  to  me  after  the 
.death  of  Mrs.  Sachs_when  I  had  renounced  nursing  forever..  I  saw 
the  path  ahead  in  its  civic,  national,  and  even  international  direc- 
tion— a  panorama  of  things  to  be.  Fired  with  this  vision,  I  went  into 
the  lounge  and  wrote  and  wrote  page  after  page  until  the  hours  of 
daylight. 

Having  settled  the  principles,  I  left  the  details  to  work  themselves 
out.  I  realized  that  a  price  must  be  paid  for  honest  thinking — a  price 
for  everything.  Though  I  did  not  know  exactly  how  I  was  to  pre- 
pare myself,  what  turn  events  might  take,  or  what  I  might  be  called 
upon  to  do,  the  future  in  its  larger  aspects  has  actually  developed  as 
I  saw  it  that  night. 

The  same  thoughts  kept  repeating  themselves  over  and  over  dur- 
ing the  remainder  of  the  otherwise  uneventful  voyage.  As  soon  as 
possible  after  reaching  New  York,  I  rented  an  inexpensive  little  flat 
on  Post  Avenue  near  Dyckman  Street,  so  far  out  on  the  upper  end 
of  Manhattan  that  even  the  Broadway  subway  trains  managed  to 
burrow  their  way  into  sunlight  and  fresh  air.  My  dining  room  was 
my  office,  the  table  my  desk. 

A  new  movement  was  starting,  and  the  baby  had  to  have  a  name. 


108  MARGARET    SANGER 

It  did  not  belong  to  Socialism  nor  was  it  in  the  labor  field,  and  it 
had  much  more  to  it  than  just  the  prevention  of  conception.  As  a 
few  companions  were  sitting  with  me  one  evening  we  debated  in 
turn  voluntary  parenthood,  voluntary  motherhood,  the  new  mother- 
hood, constructive  generation,  and  new  generation.  The  terms  al- 
ready in  use — Neo-Malthusianism,  Family  Limitation,  and  Con- 
scious Generation  seemed  stuffy  and  lacked  popular  appeal. 

The  word  control  was  good,  but  I  did  not  like  limitation — that 
was  too  limiting.  I  was  not  advocating  a  one-child  or  two-child  sys- 
tem as  in  France,  /nor  did(  I  wholeheartedly  agree  with  the  English 
Neo-Malthusians  whose  concern  was  almost  entirely  with  limitation 
for  economic  reasons.  My  idea  of  control  was  bigger  and  freer.  I 
wanted  family  in  it,  yet  family  control  did  not  sound  right.  We 
tried  population  control,  race  control,  and  birth  rate  control.  Then 
someone  suggested,  "Drop  the  rate."  Birth  control  was  the  answer; 
we  knew  we  had  it.  Our  work  for  that  day  was  done  and  everybody 
picked  up  his  hat  and  went  home.  jThe  baby  was  named. 

When  I  first  announced  that  I  was  going  to  publish  a  maga- 
zine, "Where  are  you  going  to  get  the  money?"  was  volleyed  at 
me  from  all  sides.  I  did  not  know,  but  I  was  certain  of  its  coming 
somehow.  Equally  important  was  moral  support.  Those  same  young 
friends  and  I  founded  a  little  society,  grandly  titled  the  National 
Birth  Control  League,  sought  aid  from  enthusiasts  for  other  causes, 
turning  first  to  the  Feminists  because  they  seemed  our  natural  allies. 
Armed  with  leaflets  we  went  to  Cooper  Union  to  tell  them  that  in 
the  Woman  Rebel  they  would  have  an  opportunity  to  express  their 
sentiments. 

[Charlotte  Perkins  Gilman,  the  Feminist  leader,  was  trying  to  in- 
spire women  in  this  country  to  have  a  deeper  meaning  in  their  lives, 
which  to  her  signified  more  than  getting  the  vote.  Nevertheless,  at 
that  time  I  struck  no  responsive  chord  from  her  or  from  such .  in- 
telligent co-workers  as  Crystal  Eastman,  Marie  Howe,  or  Henrietta 
Rodman.  It  seemed  unbelievable  they  could  be  serious  in  occupying 
themselves  with  what  I  regarded  as  trivialities  when  mothers  within 
a  stone's  throw  of  their  meetings  were  dying  shocking  deaths. 

Who  cared  whether  a  woman  kept  her  Christian  name — Mary 
Smith  instead  of  Mrs.  John  Jones?  Who  cared  whether  she  wore 


THE   WOMAN    REBEL  I(X) 

her  wedding  ring?  Who  cared  about  her  demand  for  the  right  to 
work?  Hundreds  of  thousands  of  laundresses,  cloakmakers,  scrub 
women,  servants,  telephone  girls,  shop  workers  would  gladly  have 
changed  places  with  the  Feminists  in  return  for  the  right  to  have 
leisure,  to  be  lazy  a  little  now  and  then..' When  I  suggested  that  the 
basis  of  Feminism  might  be  the  right  to  be  a  mother  regardless  of 
church  or  state,  their  inherited  prejudices  were  instantly  aroused. 
They  were  still  subject  to  the  age-old,  masculine  atmosphere  com- 
pounded of  protection  and  dominance.^ 

Disappointed  in  that  quarter  I  turned  to  the  Socialists  and  trade 
unionists,  trusting  they  would  appreciate  the  importance  of  family 
limitation  in  the  kind  of  civilization  towards  which  they  were  stum- 
bling. Notices  were  sent  to  The  Masses,  Mother  Earth,  The  Call, 
The  Arm  and  Hammer,  The  Liberator,  all  names  echoing  the  spirit 
which  had  quickened  them. 

.  Shortly  I  had  several  hundred  subscriptions  to  the  Woman  Rebel, 
paid  up  in  advance  at  the  rate  of  a  dollar  a  year,  the  period  for 
which  I  had  made  my  plans.  Proceeds  were  to  go  into  a  separate 
revolving  account,  scrupulously  kept.  Unlike  so  many  ephemeral 
periodicals,  mine  was  not  to  flare  up  and  spark  out  before  it  had 
functioned,  leaving  its  subscribers  with  only  a  few  issues  when  they 
were  entitled  to  more.  Eventually  we  had  a  mailing  list  of  about  two 
thousand,  but  five,  ten,  even  fifty  copies  often  went  in  a  bundle  to  be 
distributed  without  charge  to  some  labor  organization.  \ 

I  was  solely  responsible  for  the  magazine  financially,  legally,  and 
morally;  I  was  editor,  manager,  circulation  department,  bookkeeper, 
and  I  paid  the  printer's  bill.  But  any  cause  that  has  not  helpers  is 
losing  out.  So  many  men  and  women  secretaries,  stenographers, 
clerks,  used  to  come  in  of  an  evening  that  I  could  not  find  room 
for  all.  Some  typed,  some  addressed  envelopes,  some  went  to  li- 
braries and  looked  up  things  for  us  to  use,  some  wrote  articles, 
though  seldom  signing  their  own  names. [  Not  one  penny  ever  had 
to  go  for  salaries,  because  service  was  given  freely. 

In  March,  1914,  appeared  the  first  issue  of  the  Woman  Rebel, 
eight  pages  on  cheap  paper,  copied  from  the  French  style,  mailed 
first  class  in  the  city  and  expressed  outside.  My  initial  declaration 
of  the  right  of  the  individual  was  the  slogan  "No  Gods,  No  Mas- 


HO  MARGARET   SANGER 

ters."  Gods,  not  God.  I  wanted  that  word  to  go  beyond  religion 
and  also  stop  turning  idols,  heroes,  leaders  into  gods. 

I  defined  a  woman's  duty,  "To  look  the  world  in  the  face  with  a 
go-to-hell  look  in  the  eyes ;  to  have  an  idea ;  to  speak  and  act  in  defi- 
ance of  convention."  It  was  a  marvelous  time  to  say  what  we  wished. 
All  America  was  a  Hyde  Park  corner  as  far  as  criticism  and  chal- 
lenging thought  were  concerned.  We  advocated  direct  action  and 
took  up  the  burning  questions  of  the  day.  With  a  fine  sense  of  irony 
we  put  anti-capitalist  soapbox  oratory  in  print.  I  do  not  know 
whether  the  financiers  we  denounced  would  have  been  tolerant  or 
resentful  of  our  onslaughts  had  they  read  them,  or  as  full  of  passion 
for  their  cause  as  we  for  ours.  Perhaps  they  too  will  have  forgotten 
that  emotion  now. 

My  daily  routine  always  started  with  looking  over  the  pile  of 
mail,  and  one  morning  my  attention  was  caught  by  an  unstamped 
official  envelope  from  the  New  York  Post  Office.  I  tore  it  open. 

/  Dear  Madam,  You  are  hereby  notified  that  the  Solicitor  of  the 
/Post  Office  Department  has  decided  that  the  Woman  Rebel  for  March, 
\1914,  is  unmailable  under  Section  489,  Postal  Laws  and  Regulations. 

E.  M.  Morgan,  Postmaster. 

I  reread  the  letter.  It  was  so  unexpected  that  at  first  the  signifi- 
cance did  not  sink  in.  I  had  given  no  contraceptive  information;  I 
had  merely  announced  that  I  intended  to  do  so.  Then  I  began  to 
realize  that  no  mention  was  made  of  any  special  article  or  articles. 
I  wrote  Mr.  Morgan  and  asked  him  to  state  what  specifically  had 
offended,  thereby  assisting  me  in  my  future  course.  His  reply  simply 
repeated  that  the  March  issue  was  unmailable. 

I  had  anticipated  objections  from  religious  bodies,  but  believed 
with  father,  "Anything  you  want  can  be  accomplished  by  putting  a 
little  piece  of  paper  into  the  ballot  box."  Therefore,  to  have  our  in- 
significant magazine  stopped  by  the  big,  strong  United  States  Gov- 
ernment seemed  so  ludicrous  as  almost  to  make  us  feel  important. 
To  the  newspaper  world  this  was  news,  but  not  one  of  the  dailies 
j  picked  it  out  as  an  infringement  of  a  free  press.  The  Sun  carried  a 
^headline,  "  'WOMAN  REBEL'  BARRED  FROM  MAILS."  And 


THE    WOMAN    REBEL  III 


underneath  the  comment,  "Too  bad.  The  case  should  be  reversed.  They 
should  be  barred  from  her  and  spelled  differently."  <v 

Many  times  I  studied  Section  211  of  the  Federal  Statutes,  under     A 
which  the  Post  Office  was  acting.  This  penal  clause  of  the  Comstock      I 
Law  had  been  left  hanging  in  Washington  like  the  dried  shell  of  a 
tortoise.  Its  grip  had  even  been  tightened  on  the  moral  side ;  in  case      I 
the  word  obscene  should  prove  too  vague,  its  definition  had  been     / 
enlarged  to  include  the  prevention  of  conception  and  the  causing  of     / 
abortion  under  one  and  the  same  heading?/To  me  it  was  outrageous  w 
that  information  regarding  motherhood,  which  was  so  generally  / 
called  sacred,  should  be  classed  with  pornography  .\  ^fC 

Nevertheless,  I  had  not  broken  the  law,  because  it  did  not  pro- 
hibit discussion  of  contraception — merely  giving  advice.  I  harbored 
a  burning  desire  to  undermine  that  law.  But  if  I  continued  publica- 
tion I  was  making  myself  liable  to  a  Federal  indictment  and  a  pos- 
sible prison  term  of  five  years  plus  a  fine  of  five  thousand  dollars. 
I  had  to  choose  between  abandoning  the  Woman  Rebel,  changing  its 
tone,  or  continuing  as  I  had  begun.  Though  I  had  no  wish  to  be- 
come a  martyr,  with  no  hesitation  I  followed  the  last-named  course. 

I  gathered  our  little  group  together.  At  first  we  assumed  Com- 
stock had  stopped  the  entire  issue  before  delivery,  but  apparently 
he  had  not,  because  only  the  A  to  M's  which  had  been  mailed  in 
the  local  post  office  had  been  confiscated.  \We  took  a  fresh  lot  down- 
town, slipped  three  into  one  chute,  four  in  another,  walked  miles 
around  the  city  so  that  no  single  box  contained  more  than  a  few 
copies.  \ 

The  same  procedure  had  to  be  pursued  in  succeeding  months. 
Sometimes  daylight  caught  me,  with  one  or  more  assistants,  still 
tramping  from  the  printer's  and  dropping  the  copies,  piece  by  piece, 
into  various  boxes  and  chutes.  I  felt  the  Government  was  absurd 
and  tyrannical  to  make  us  do  this  for  no  good  purpose.  I  could  not 
get  used  to  its  methods  then.  I  have  not  yet,  and  probably  never  shall. 

The  Woman  Rebel  produced  extraordinary  results,  striking  vibra- 
tions that  brought  contacts,  messages,  inquiries,  pamphlets,  books, 
even  some  money.  I  corresponded  with  the  leading  Feminists  of 
Europe — Ellen  Key,  then  at  the  height  of  her  fame,  Olive  Schreiner, 


112  MARGARET   SANGER 

Mrs.  Pankhurst,  Rosa  Luxemburg,  Adele  Schreiber,  Clara  Zetkin, 
Roszika  Schwimmer,  Frau  Maria  Stritt.  But  I  also  heard  from 
sources  and  groups  I  had  hardly  known  existed — Theosophist,  New 
Thought,  Rosicrucian,  Spiritualist,  Mental  Scientist.  It  was  not 
alone  from  New  York,  but  from  the  highways  and  byways  of  north, 
south,  east,  and  west  that  inspiration  came. 

;  After  the  second  number  the  focus  had  been  birth  control.  Within 
six  months  we  had  received  over  ten  thousand  letters,  arriving  in 
accelerating  volume.  Most  of  them  read,  "Will  your  magazine  give 
accurate  and  reliable  information  to  prevent  conception?,"  This  I 
could  not  print.  Realizing  by  now  it  was  going  to  be  a  fairly  big 
fight,  I  was  careful  not  to  break  the  law  on  such  a  trivial  point.  It 
would  have  been  ridiculous  to  have  a  single  letter  reach  the  wrong 
destination;  therefore,  I  sent  no  contraceptive  facts  through  the 
mails. 

y  However,  I  had  no  intention  of  giving  up  this  primary  purpose. 
|  I  began  sorting  and  arranging  the  material  I  had  brought  back 
from  France,  complete  with  formulas  and  drawings,  to  be  issued 
in  a  pamphlet  where  I  could  treat  the  subject  with  more  delicacy 
than  in  a  magazine,  writing  it  for  women  of  extremely  circum- 
scribed vocabularies.  A  few  hundred  dollars  were  needed  to  finance 
publication  of  Family  Limitation,  as  I  named  it,  and  I  approached 
Theodore  Schroeder,  a  lawyer  of  standing  and  an  ardent  advocate 
of  free  speech.  He  had  been  left  a  fund  by  a  certain  Dr.  Foote  who 
had  produced  a  book  on  Borning  Better  Babies,  and  I  thought  my 
pamphlet  might  qualify  as  a  beneficiary. 

Dr.  Abraham  Brill  was  just  then  bringing  out  a  translation  of 
Freud,  in  whom  Schroeder  was  much  interested.  He  asked  whether 
I  had  been  psychoanalyzed. 

"What  is  psychoanalysis  ?" 

He  looked  at  me  critically  as  from  a  great  height.  "You  ought  to 
be  analyzed  as  to  your  motives.  If,  after  six  weeks,  you  still  wish  to 
publish  this  pamphlet,  I'll  pay  for  ten  thousand  copies." 

"Well,  do  you  think  I  won't  want  to  go  on  ?" 

"I  don't  only  think  so.  I'm  quite  sure  of  it." 

"Then  I  won't  be  analyzed." 

I  took  the  manuscript  to  a  printer  well  known  for  his  liberal 


THE    WOMAN    REBEL  113 

tendencies  and  courage.  He  read  the  contents  page  by  page  and  said, 
"You'll  never  get  this  set  up  in  any  shop  in  New  York.  It's  a  Sing     X 
Sing  job." 

Every  one  of  the  twenty  printers  whom  I  tried  to  persuade  was 
afraid  to  touch  it.  It  was  impossible  ever,  it  seemed,  to  get  into 
print  the  contents  of  that  pamphlet. 

i  Meanwhile,  following  the  March  issue  the  May  and  July  numbers 
of  the  Woman  Rebel  had  also  been  banned.  In  reply  to  each  of  the 
formal  notices  I  inquired  which  particular  article  or  articles  had 
incurred  disapproval,  but  could  obtain  no  answer.  |  -^ 

At  that  time  I  visualized  the  birth  control  movement  as  part  of 
the  fight  for  freedom  of  speech,  flow  much  would  the  postal  au- 
thorities suppress?  What  were  they  really  after?  I  was  determined 
to  prod  and  goad  until  some  definite  knowledge  was  obtained  as  to 
what  was  "obscene,  lewd,  and  lascivious."  • — - 

Theodore  Schroeder  and  I  used  to  meet  once  in  a  while  at  the 
Liberal  Club,  and  he  gave  much  sound  advice — I  could  not  go  on 
with  the  Woman  Rebel  forever.  Eventually  the  Post  Office  would 
wear  me  down  by  stopping  the  issues  as  fast  as  I  printed  them.  He 
warned,  "They  won't  do  so  and  so  unless  you  do  thus  and  thus.  If 
you  do  such  and  such,  then  you'll  have  to  take  the  consequences." 
He  was  a  good  lawyer  and  an  authority  on  the  Constitution. 

When  my^famil^-Jearned  that  I  might  be  getting  in  deep  water 
a  council  was  called  just  as  when  I  had  been  a  child.  A  verdict  of 
nervous  breakdown  was  openly  decreed,  but  back  in  the  minds  of 
all  was  the  unspoken  dread  that  I  must  have  become  mentally  un- 
balanced. They  insisted  father  come  to  New  York,  where  he  had 
not  been  for  forty  years,  to  persuade  me  to  go  to  a  sanitarium. 

For  several  days  father  and  I  talked  over  the  contents  of  the 
Woman  Rebel.  In  his  fine,  flowing  language  he  expressed  his  hatred 
of  it.  He  despised  talk  about  revolution,  and  despaired  of  anyone 
who  could  discuss  sex,  blaming  this  on  my  nursing  training,  which, 
he  intimated,  had  put  me  in  possession  of  all  the  known  secrets  of 
the  human  body.  He  was  not  quite  sure  what  birth  control  was,  and 
my  reasoning,  which  retraced  the  pattern  of  our  old  arguments, 
made  no  impression  upon  him. 

Father  would  have  nothing  to  do  with  the  "queer  people"  who 


114  MARGARET    SANGER 

came  to  the  house — people  of  whom  no  one  had  ever  heard — turn- 
ing up  with  articles  on  every  possible  subject  and  defying  me  to 
publish  them  in  the  name  of  free  speech.  I  printed  everything.  For 
the  August  issue  I  accepted  a  philosophical  essay  on  the  theory  of 
assassination,  largely  derived  from  Richard  Carlile.  It  was  vague, 
inane,  and  innocuous,  and  had  no  bearing  on  my  policy  except  to 
taunt  the  Government  to  take  action,  because  assassination  also  was 
included  under  Section  211. 

Only  a  few  weeks  earlier,  the  war  which  Victor  Dave  had  pre- 
dicted had  started  its  headlong  progress.  The  very  moment  when 
most  people  were  busy  with  geographies  and  atlases,  trying  to  find 
out  just  where  Sarajevo  might  be,  the  United  States  chose  to  sever 
diplomatic  relations  with  me. 

One  morning  I  was  startled  by  the  peremptory,  imperious,  and 
incessant  ringing  of  my  bell.  When  I  opened  the  door,  I  was  con- 
fronted by  two  gentlemen. 

"Will  you  come  in?" 

They  followed  me  into  my  living  room,  scrutinized  with  amaze- 
ment the  velocipede  and  wagon,  the  woolly  animals  and  toys  stacked 
_,in  the  corner.  One  of  them  asked,  "Are  you  the  editor  and  publisher 
of  a  magazine  entitled  the  Woman  Rebel?" 

When  I  confessed  to  it,  he  thrust  a  legal  document  into  my  hands. 
I  tried  to  read  it,  threading  my  way  slowly  through  the  jungle  of 
legal  terminology.  Perhaps  the  words  became  a  bit  blurred  because 
of  the  slight  trembling  of  my  hands,  but  I  managed  to  disentangle 
the  crucial  point  of  the  message.fi  had  been  indicted — indicted  on  no 
less  than  nine  counts — for  alleged  violation  of  the  Federal  Statutes. 
If  found  guilty  on  all,  I  might  be  liable  to  forty-five  years  in  the 

m  m  \ 

penitentiary.  \ 

I  looked  at  the  two  agents  of  the  Department  of  Justice.  They 
seemed  nice  and  sensible.  I  invited  them  to  sit  down  and  started  in 
to  explain  birth  control.  For  three  hours  I  presented  to  their  im- 
aginations some  of  the  tragic  stories  of  conscript  motherhood.  I 
forget  now  what  I  said,  but  at  the  end  they  agreed  that  such  a 
law  should  not  be  on  the  statute  books.  Yet  it  was,  and  there  was 
nothing  to  do  about  it  but  bring  my  case  to  court. 

When  the  officers  had  gone,  father  came  through  the  door  of  the 


THE    WOMAN    REBEL  115 

adjoining  room  where  he  had  been  reading  the  paper.  He  put  both 
arms  around  me  and  said,  ''Your  mother  would  have  been  alive  to- 
day if  we  had  known  all  this  then."  He  had  applied  my  recital  di- 
rectly to  his  own  life.  "You  will  win  this  case.  Everything  is  with 
you — logic,  common  sense,  and  progress.  I  never  saw  the  truth 
until  this  instant." 

Old-fashioned  phraseology,  but  father  was  at  last  convinced..  He 
went  home  quite  proud,  thinking  I  was  not  so  crazy  after  all,  and 
began  sending  me  clippings  to  help  prove  the  case  for  birth  control 
— women  who  had  drowned  themselves  or  their  children  and  the 
brutalities  of  parents,  because  even  mother  love  might  turn  cruel  if 
too  hard  pressed. 

My  faith  was  still  childlike.  I  trusted  that,  like  father,  a  judge 
representing  our  Government  would  be  convinced.  All  I  had  to  do 
was  explain  to  those  in  power  what  I  was  doing  and  everything 
would  come  right. 

August  twenty-fifth  I  was  arraigned  in  the  old  Post  Office  way 
downtown.  Judge  Hazel,  himself  a  father  of  eight  or  nine  children, 
was  kindly,  and  I  suspected  the  two  Federal  agents  who  had  sum- 
moned me  had  spoken  a  good  word  on  my  behalf.  But  Assistant 
District  Attorney  Harold  A.  Content  seemed  a  ferocious  young  fel- 
low. When  the  Judge  asked,  "What  sort  of  things  is  Mrs.  Sanger 
doing  to  violate  the  law?"  he  answered,  "She's  printing  articles  ad- 
vocating bomb  throwing  and  assassination." 

"Mrs.  Sanger  doesn't  look  like  a  bomb  thrower  or  an  assassin." 

Mr.  Content  murmured  something  about  not  all  being  gold  that 
glittered;  I  was  doing  a  great  deal  of  harm.  He  intimated  he  knew 
of  my  attempts  to  get  Family  Limitation  in  print  when  he  said,  "She 
is  not  satisfied  merely  to  violate  the  law,  but  is  planning  to  do  it  on 
a  very  large  scale." 

Judge  Hazel,  apparently  believing  the  charges  much  exaggerated, 
put  the  case  over  until  the  fall  term,  which  gave  me  six  weeks  to 
prepare  my  answer,  and  Mr.  Content  concurred,  saying  that  if  this 
were  not  enough  time,  I  could  have  more. 

The  press  also  was  inclined  to  be  friendly.  Reporters  came  up 
to  Post  Avenue,  looked  over  the  various  articles.  They  agreed,  "We 
think  the  Government  absolutely  wrong.  We  don't  see  how  it  has 


Il6  MARGARET    SANGER 

any  case."  Unfortunately,  while  we  were  talking,  Peggy,  who  had 
never  seen  a  derby  before,  took  possession  of  their  hats  and  sticks, 
and  in  the  hall  a  little  parade  of  children  formed,  marching  up  and 
down  in  front  of  the  door.  One  of  the  gentlemen  was  so  furious  that 
I  hid  Peggy  in  the  kitchen  away  from  his  wrath.  As  he  went  out 
he  remarked,  "You  should  have  birth  controlled  them  before  they 
were  born.  Why  don't  you  stay  home  and  spend  some  thought  on 
disciplining  your  own  family?" 

I  had  many  things  to  do  which  could  not  be  postponed,  the  most 
important  among  them  being  to  provide  for  the  children's  future. 
This  occupied  much  of  my  time  for  the  next  few  weeks.  Temporar- 
ily, I  sent  the  younger  two  to  the  Catskills  and  Stuart  to  a  camp 
in  Maine,  arranging  for  school  in  the  fall  on  Long  Island. 

[  Defense  funds  were  always  being  raised  when  radicals  got  into 
trouble  to  pay  pseudo-radical  lawyers  to  fight  the  cases  on  techni- 
calities. I  was  not  going  to  have  any  lawyer  get  me  out  of  this. 
Since  my  indictment  had  not  stopped  my  publishing  the  Woman 
Rebel,  through  the  columns  of  the  September  issue  I  told  my  sub- 
scribers I  did  not  want  pennies  or  dollars,  but  appealed  to  them  to 
combine  forces  and  protest  on  their  own  behalf  against  government 
invasion  of  their  rights.  That  issue  and  the  October  one  were  both 
suppressed,  i 

During  what  might  be  called  my  sleepwalking  stage  it  was  as 
though  I  were  heading  towards  a  precipice  and  nothing  could  awaken 
me.  I  had  no  ear  for  the  objections  of  family  or  the  criticism  of 
friends.  People  were  around  me,  I  knew,  but  I  could  not  see  them 
clearly;  I  was  deaf  to  their  warnings  and  blind  to  their  signs. 

When  I  review  the  situation  through  the  eyes  of  those  who  gave 
me  circumspect  advice,  I  can  understand  their  attitude.  I  was  con- 
sidered a  conservative,  even  a  bourgeoise  by  the  radicals.  I  was  dig- 
ging into  an  illegal  subject,  was  not  a  trained  writer  or  speaker  or 
experienced  in  the  arts  of  the  propagandist,  had  no  money  with 
which  to  start  a  rousing  campaign,  and  possessed  neither  social  posi- 
tion nor  influence. 

In  the  opinion  of  nearly  all  my  acquaintances  I  would  have  to 
spend  at  least  a  year  in  jail,  and  they  began  to  condole  with  me. 
None  offered  to  do  anything  about  it,  just  suggested  how  I  could  get 


THE    WOMAN    REBEL  WJ 

through.  One  kind  woman  whom  I  had  never  seen  before  called  late 
one  evening  and  volunteered  to  give  me  dancing  lessons.  In  a  small 
six-by-four  cabin  she  had  developed  a  system  which  she  claimed 
was  equally  applicable  to  a  prison  cell  and  would  keep  me  in  good 
health.  She  even  wrote  out  careful  directions  for  combining  proper 
exercises  with  the  rhythm  of  the  dance. 

But  I  myself  had  no  intention  of  going  to  jail;  it  was  not  in  my 
program. 

j  One  other  thing  I  had  to  do  before  my  trial.  Family  Limitation 
simply  must  be  published.  I  had  at  last  found  the  right  person — Bill 
Shatoff,  Russian-born,  big  and  burly,  at  that  time  a  linotype  oper- 
ator on  a  foreign  paper.  So  that  nobody  would  see  him  he  did  the 
job  after  hours  when  his  shop  was  supposed  to  be  closed. 

At  first  I  had  thought  only  of  an  edition  of  ten  thousand.  How- 
ever, when  I  learned  that  union  leaders  in  the  silk,  woolen,  and  cop- 
per industries  were  eager  to  have  many  more  copies  to  distribute,  I 
enlarged  my  plan.  I  would  have  liked  to  print  a  million  but,  owing 
to  lack  of  funds,  could  not  manage  more  than  a  hundred  thousand. 

Addressing  the  envelopes  took  a  lot  of  work.  Night  after  night 
the  faithful  band  labored  in  a  storage  room,  wrapping,  weighing, 
stamping.  Bundles  went  to  the  mills  in  the  East,  to  the  mines  of  the 
West — to  Chicago,  San  Francisco,  and  Pittsburgh,  to  Butte,  Law- 
rence, and  Paterson.  All  who  had  requested  copies  were  to  receive 
them  simultaneously;  I  did  not  want  any  to  be  circulated  until  I 
was  ready,  and  refused  to  have  one  in  my  own  house.  I  was  a  tyrant 
about  this,  as  firm  as  a  general  about  leaving  no  rough  edges. 

In  October  my  case  came  up.  I  had  had  no  notice  and,  without  a 
lawyer  to  keep  me  posted,  did  not  even  know  it  had  been  called 
until  the  District  Attorney's  office  telephoned.  Since  Mr.  Content 
had  promised  me  plenty  of  time,  I  thought  this  was  merely  a  for- 
mality and  all  I  had  to  do  was  put  in  an  appearance. 

The  next  morning  I  presented  myself  at  court.  As  I  sat  in  the 
crowded  room  I  felt  crushed  and  oppressed  by  an  intuitive  sense  of 
the  tremendous,  impersonal  power  of  my  opponents.  Popular  inter- 
est was  now  focused  on  Europe;  my  little  defiance  was  no  longer 
important.  When  I  was  brought  out  of  my  reverie  by  the  voice  of 
the  clerk  trumpeting  forth  in  the  harshly  mechanical  tones  of  a 


Il8  MARGARET    SANGER 

train  announcer  something  about  The  People  v.  Margaret  Sanger, 
there  flashed  into  my  mind  a  huge  map  of  the  United  States,  com- 
ing to  life  as  a  massive,  vari-colored  animal,  against  which  I,  so 
insignificant  and  small,  must  in  some  way  defend  myself.  It  was  a 
terrific  feeling. 

But  courage  did  not  entirely  desert  me.  Elsie  Clapp,  whose  ample 
Grecian  figure  made  her  seem  a  tower  of  strength,  marched  up  the 
aisle  with  me  as  though  she,  too,  were  to  be  tried.  I  said  to  Judge 
Hazel  that  I  was  not  prepared,  and  asked  for  a  month's  adjournment. 
Mr.  Content  astonished  me  by  objecting.  "Mrs.  Sanger's  had  plenty 
of  time  and  I  see  no  reason,  Your  Honor,  why  we  should  have  a 
further  postponement.  Every  day's  delay  means  that  her  violations 
are  increased.  I  ask  that  the  case  continue  this  afternoon." 

A  change  in  Judge  Hazel's  attitude  had  taken  place  since  August. 
Instead  of  listening  to  my  request,  he  advised  me  to  get  an  attorney 
at  once — my  trial  would  go  on  after  the  noon  recess. 

I  was  so  amazed  that  I  could  only  believe  his  refusal  was  due  to 
my  lack  of  technical  knowledge,  and  supposed  that  at  this  point  I 
really  had  to  have  a  lawyer.  I  knew  Simon  H.  Pollock,  who  had 
represented  labor  during  the  Paterson  strike,  and  I  went  to  see  him. 
He  agreed  with  me  that  a  lawyer's  plea  would  not  be  rejected  and 
that  afternoon  confidently  asked  for  a  month's  stay.  It  was  denied. 
He  reduced  it  to  two  weeks.  Again  it  was  denied.  At  ten  the  follow- 
ing morning  the  case  was  to  be  tried  without  fail. 

From  the  Post  Office  Department  I  received  roundabout  word 
that  my  conviction  had  already  been  decided  upon.  When  I  told  this 
to  Mr.  Pollock  he  said,  "There  isn't  a  thing  I  can  do.  You'd  better 
plead  guilty  and  let  us  get  you  out  as  fast  as  we  can.  We  might 
even  be  able  to  make  some  deal  with  the  D.A.  so  you'd  only  have 
to  pay  a  fine." 

I  indignantly  refused  to  plead  guilty  under  any  circumstances. 
What  was  the  sense  of  bringing  about  my  indictment  in  order  to 
test  the  law,  and  then  admit  that  I  had  done  wrong?  I  was  trying 
to  prove  the  law  was  wrong,  not  I.  Giving  Mr.  Pollock  no  direc- 
tions how  to  act,  I  merely  said  I  would  call  him  up. 

It  was  now  four  o'clock  and  I  sought  refuge  at  home  to  think 
through  my  mental  turmoil  and  distress.  But  home  was  crowded 


THE    WOMAN    REBEL  IIO, 

with  too  many  associations  and  emotions  pulling  me  this  way  and 
that.  When  my  thoughts  would  not  come  clear  and  straight  I  packed 
a  suitcase,  went  back  downtown,  and  took  a  room  in  a  hotel,  the 
most  impersonal  place  in  the  world. 

There  was  no  doubt  in  my  mind  that  if  I  faced  the  hostile  court 
the  next  morning,  unprepared  as  I  was,  I  would  be  convicted  of  pub- 
lishing an  obscene  paper.  Such  a  verdict  would  be  an  injustice.  If  I 
were  to  convince  a  court  of  the  rightness  of  my  cause,  I  must  have 
my  facts  well  marshaled,  and  that  could  not  be  done  in  eighteen  hours. 

Then  there  was  the  question  of  the  children's  welfare.  Had  I  the 
right  to  leave  them  the  heritage  of  a  mother  who  had  been  im- 
prisoned for  some  offensive  literature  of  which  no  one  knew  the 
details  ? 

What  was  I  to  do?  Should  I  get  another  lawyer,  one  with  per- 
sonal influence  who  could  secure  a  "postponement,  and  should  we 
then  go  into  court  together  and  fight  it  out?  I  had  no  money  for 
such  a  luxury.  Should  I  follow  the  inevitable  suggestion  of  the 
"I-told-you-so's"  and  take  my  medicine?  Yes,  but  what  medicine? 
I  would  not  swallow  a  dosage  for  the  wrong  disease. 

I  was  not  afraid  of  the  penitentiary;  I  was  not  afraid  of  any- 
thing except  being  misunderstood.  Nevertheless,  in  the  circum- 
stances, my  going  there  could  help  nobody.  I  had  seen  so  many  peo- 
ple do  foolish  things  valiantly,  such  as  wave  a  red  flag,  shout 
inflammatory  words,  lead  a  parade,  just  for  the  excitement  of  do- 
ing what  the  crowd  expected  of  them.  Then  they  went  to  jail  for  six 
months,  a  year  perhaps,  and  what  happened?  Something  had  been 
killed  in  them ;  they  were  never  heard  of  again.  I  had  seen  braver  and 
hardier  souls  than  I  vanquished  in  spirit  and  body  by  prison  terms, 
and  I  was  not  going  to  be  lost  and  broken  for  an  issue  which 
was  not  the  real  one,  such  as  the  entirely  unimportant  Woman  Rebel 
articles.  Had  I  been  able  to  print  Family  Limitation  earlier,  and  to 
swing  the  indictment  around  that,  going  to  jail  might  have  had  some 
significance. 

Going  away  was  much  more  difficult  than  remaining.  But  if  I 
were  to  sail  for  Europe  I  could  prepare  my  case  adequately  and  re- 
turn then  to  win  or  lose  in  the  courts.  There  was  a  train  for  Canada 
within  a  few  hours.  Could  I  take  it?  Should  I  take  it?  Could  I  ever 


120  MARGARET    SANGER 

make  those  who  had  advised  me  against  this  work  and  these  activi- 
ties understand?  Could  I  ever  make  anyone  understand?  How 
could  I  separate  myself  from  the  children  without  seeing  them 
once  more?  Peggy's  leg  was  swollen  from  vaccination.  This  kept 
worrying  me,  made  me  hesitate,  anxious.  It  was  so  hard  to  decide 
what  to  do. 

Perfectly  still,  my  watch  on  the  table,  I  marked  the  minutes  fly. 
There  could  be  no  retreat  once  I  boarded  that  train.  The  torture  of 
uncertainty,  the  agony  of  making  a  decision  only  to  reverse  it! 
The  hour  grew  later  and  later.  This  was  like  both  birth  and  death — 
you  had  to  meet  them  alone. 

|  About  thirty  minutes  before  train  time  I  knew  that  I  must  go. 
I  wrote  two  letters,  one  to  Judge  Hazel,  one  to  Mr.  Content,  to  be 
received  at  the  desk  the  next  day,  informing  them  of  my  action. 
I  had  asked  for  a  month  and  it  had  been  refused.  This  denial  of 
right  and  freedom  compelled  me  to  leave  my  home  and  my  three 
children  until  I  made  ready  my  case,  which  dealt  with  society  rather 
than  an  individual.  I  would  notify  them  when  I  came  back.  Whether 
this  were  in  a  month  or  a  year  depended  on  what  I  found  it  necessary 
to  do.  Finally,  as  though  to  say,  "Make  the  most  of  it,"  I  enclosed 
to  each  a  copy  of  Family  Limitation. 

Parting  from  all  that  I  held  dear  in  life,  I  left  New  York  at  mid- 
night, without  a  passport,  not  knowing  whether  I  could  ever  return. 


Chapter  Ten 


WE  SPEAK  THE  SAME  GOOD  TONGUE 


>VV,    ,v\\  .>V>  ->V\  .VV\  .XVV   ->V\  .>\\  -\V\  ,>VV  AVV  ,\V\  ,>V\    J 

'iit  'tit   Hi   Hi  Hi   tit   tit   Hi   it/  tit 'tit  tit  tit " 

) 

AT  Montreal  I  found  comfort  and  refuge.  In  fact,  on  any  road 
jT\.  I  took  men  and  women  who  knew  about  the  Woman  Rebel 
came  to  my  aid.  I  shall  never  forget  the  generosity  of  the  Baineses  who 
met  me  at  the  train  and  welcomed  me  to  their  home.  They  had  been 
friends  of  Walt  Whitman  and  still  honored  "his"  memory.  I  sat  at 
the  table  where  "he"  had  sat,  and  in  "his"  chair.  Among  their  many 
kindnesses  they  gave  me  an  introduction  to  Edward  Carpenter,  also 
mentioned  in  awed  tones,  leader  of  the  Whitman  group  in  England 
and  author  of  Love's  Coming  of  Age,  which  was  then  on  every  mod- 
ern bookshelf. 

Since  I  was  charged  with  felony  I  could  be  extradited.  I  was 
obliged,  therefore,  in  buying  my  passage,  to  choose  a  new  name.  No 
sooner  had  I  selected  the  atrociously  ugly  "Bertha  Watson,"  which 
seemed  to  rob  me  of  femininity,  than  I  wanted  to  be  rid  of  it.  But 
once  having  adopted  it  I  could  not  escape. 

I  boarded  the  RMS  Virginian,  laden  with  munitions,  food,  Eng- 
lishmen returning  home  for  war  duty,  and  Canadians  going  over. 
Even  before  the  printing  of  Family  Limitation  had  begun  in  August, 
I  had  arranged  a  key  message  which  would  release  all  the  pamphlets 
simultaneously  whenever  it  should  be  received  by  any  of  four  trusted 
lieutenants.  In  case  one  should  be  arrested,  another  ill,  or  a  third 
die,  still  everything  would  go  forward  as  provided  for.  Three  days 

121 


122  MARGARET   SANGER 

out  of  Montreal  I  sent  a  cable  and  shortly  had  one  in  reply  that  the 
program  was  being  executed  as  planned.  My  soul  was  sick  and  my 
heart  empty  for  those  I  loved;  the  one  gleam  in  this  dreadful  night 
of  despair  was  the  faint  hope  that  my  efforts  might,  perhaps,  make 
Peggy's  future  easier. 

The  government  official  examining  credentials  at  Liverpool  said 
sternly,  "England  is  at  war,  Madam.  You  can't  expect  us  to  let  you 
through.  We're  sending  back  people  without  passports  every  day,  and 
I  can't  make  an  exception  in  your  case." 

But  I  had  Good  Luck  as  an  ally;  she  comes  so  often  to  help  in 
emergencies.  A  shipboard  acquaintance  telephoned  and  pulled  wires, 
a  procedure  not  so  common  in  England  as  in  the  United  States.  On 
his  guarantee  that  I  would  get  a  passport  from  the  American  Em- 
bassy immediately  on  reaching  London  I  was  allowed  to  enter. 

I  wound  through  dirty  streets  in  a  cab  to  the  Adelphi  Palace.  It 
rained  all  day,  the  wind  blew,  its  howling  came  through  the  windows 
and  crept  down  the  chimney.  Homesickness  swept  over  me  worse 
than  ever  before  or  since.  I  knew  it  would  not  do  to  "set  and  think" 
as  the  Quakers  say,  so  I  wandered  about  in  the  business  district,  try- 
ing to  adjust  my  mind  to  the  prices  marked  in  the  store  windows  in 
order  to  have  some  idea  of  what  they  were  in  dollars  and  cents.  I 
viewed  church  architecture  and  the  Cathedral,  which  was  not  ex- 
pected to  be  finished  for  fifty  years.  It  did  not  look  so  splendid,  but 
since  everything  about  it  was  closed  I  really  could  not  tell. 

Liverpool  was  a  quaint  city.  I  liked  its  weathered  brick  houses, 
and  the  evenness  and  settled  feeling,  as  though  the  people  in  them 
planned  to  remain  where  they  were  for  time  everlasting.  The  women 
of  the  poor  were  unconcernedly  wearing  on  the  streets  dresses  orig- 
inally made  for  bustles,  hats  with  feathers,  caricatures  which  should 
have  been  stuffed  away  in  attics  forty  years  before. 

Bertha  Watson  had  a  letter  to  the  local  Fabian  Society,  and  at  six 
I  went  to  the  Clarion  Cafe,  where  it  foregathered  each  Friday.  I  pre- 
sented her  letter,  was  welcomed  heartily,  and  invited  to  the  discussion. 
I  found  the  English  then  and  later  polite  in  speech  and  action,  toler- 
ant in  listening.  One  of  the  members  helped  me  to  locate  temporary 
rooms  while  I  waited  for  the  arrival  of  letters  and  messages  from  the 
United  States.  These  lodgings  were  in  the  home  of  gentle,  middle- 


WE   SPEAK   THE   SAME   GOOD   TONGUE  1 23 

class  people  to  whom  I  paid  thirty  shillings  a  week,  including  break- 
fast and  dinner. 

I  shall  always  be  glad  I  went  to  that  meeting,  because  there  I  met 
Lorenzo  Portet,  once  companion  of  Francisco  Ferrer  and  now  heir 
to  his  educational  work,  which  both  believed  was  the  key  to  Spanish 
emancipation. 

After  the  attempted  assassination  of  Alfonso  XIII  and  Victoria 
of  England,  the  Government  had  arrested  twenty-five  hundred  Span- 
iards having  republican  ideas,  among  them  Ferrer.  His  school  had 
been  closed  and  he  had  been  jailed.  When  he  had  been  eventually  re- 
leased, he  had  still  been  determined  to  educate  for  universal  peace 
by  means  of  economic  justice.  Accordingly,  as  Portet  stated  it,  he 
had  reopened  a  school  for  all  Spain  by  publishing  labor  texts  at  Barce- 
lona. This  again  had  earned  him  no  reward  from  a  grateful  Govern- 
ment. In  1909  he  had  been  arrested  in  a  purge  of  republicans,  stood 
up  against  a  wall  and  shot,  and  his  body  thrown  into  a  ditch. 

Ferrer  had  left  his  money  to  Portet,  who  was  now  fulfilling  his 
trust  by  feeding  the  country  with  modern  scientific  translations  from 
Italy,  France,  and  England.  He  was  a  man  of  middle  height  and 
weight  whose  alert  glance  summed  you  up  with  an  accuracy  occa- 
sionally disturbing.  After  our  initial  encounter  he  called  on  me  with 
punctiliousness  and  formality,  and  produced  an  article  from  a  New 
York  magazine  which  carried  the  story  of  the  indictment  of  Mar- 
garet Sanger.  "This  is  you?"  he  questioned  with  the  jumping  of  all 
fact  which  is  termed  intuition. 

Portet,  a  born  teacher,  was  then  instructing  youth  at  the  Uni- 
versity of  Liverpool  in  Spanish.  No  human  being  I  ever  knew  could 
explain  with  such  infinite  pains  the  details  of  a  subject.  He  placed 
your  own  opposition  before  you,  marshaled  it  in  all  its  strength,  and 
then  annihilated  every  point,  one  by  one.  His  humorous  cynicism  was 
most  baffling  to  those  who  were  merely  emotional  converts  to  better 
worlds.  "Civilization?"  he  might  say,  "Mainly  a  question  of  good 
roads." 

Sometimes  in  the  midst  of  those  long,  drab,  November  weeks  I 
escaped  to  Wales,  where  there  were  endless  lanes,  winding  and  hard, 
with  very  few  carts,  and  all  very  quiet.  Even  here  were  Carnegie  li- 
braries, one  of  them  turned  into  a  restaurant.  I  went  into  the  houses 


124  MARGARET    SANGER 

of  the  smelting  workers  at  Green  Brombo,  Wexham,  all  lovely,  mi- 
nute, stone  cottages  of  two  or  three  rooms,  huddled  closely  together, 
charming  with  their  walks  and  walls  and  flower  gardens.  The  folk 
were  slow,  deliberate,  simple. 

Liverpool  was  only  a  junction;  London  was  my  terminus.  There 
I  could  study  at  the  British  Museum,  and  meet  the  Neo-Malthusians. 
Towards  the  end  of  the  month  I  rolled  up  to  London  through  miles 
of  chimney-potted  suburbs;  it  continued  rainy  and  foggy,  but  still 
there  was  a  friendly  atmosphere  in  the  air.  I  seemed  to  be  coming  to 
a  second  home. 

My  first  quarters  were  on  the  top  floor  of  a  "bed  and  breakfast" 
on  Torrington  Square,  just  back  of  the  British  Museum.  I  looked 
out  on  little  rows  of  trees,  iron  fences,  steps  going  up  to  all  the 
houses.  There  was  but  one  bathroom  and  to  use  it  cost  extra.  Every 
morning  about  seven  came  a  knock,  and  when  I  opened  the  door  I 
discovered  a  midget  jug  of  hot  water  outside.  I  was  supposed  to  break 
the  ice  on  my  large  pitcher,  mix  the  two,  and  pour  all  into  my  tin 
tub,  the  back  of  which  rose  behind  me  like  a  throne.  After  this  winter 
I  realized  how  the  British  had  acquired  their  well-known  moral 
courage. 

I  had  no  fireplace,  but  two  floors  below  was  an  empty  room  with 
a  grate.  Occasionally  I  indulged  myself  in  the  luxury  of  renting  it 
for  the  evening,  and  of  buying  wood  to  keep  myself  warm  while  I 
worked.  I  made  up  for  it  by  not  having  the  slatternly  Cockney  maid 
bring  up  tea,  and  also  went  each  morning  to  the  basement  dining 
room  for  my  breakfast,  thereby  saving  a  shilling  a  week.  It  was  not 
long  before  I  was  stricken  by  the  first  digestive  upset  I  had  ever  had, 
and  was  obliged  to  call  in  an  American  doctor.  He  looked  me  over 
casually  and  then,  without  further  examination,  asked,  "Have  you 
been  drinking  English  coffee?" 

"Why,  yes." 

"Well,  give  it  up.  The  English  can't  make  coffee ;  they  only  know 
how  to  make  tea.  Take  up  English  tea." 

I  followed  his  advice  and  from  that  time  on,  instead  of  carrying 
my  own  eating  habits  with  me,  have  tried  to  adjust  myself  to  the 
food  of  the  country  where  I  happened  to  be.  In  this  way  I  g&t  along 
much  better, 


WE   SPEAK   THE   SAME   GOOD   TONGUE  1 25 

Sundays  I  attended  concerts  or  visited  art  galleries,  though  since 
it  was  war  time  disappointingly  few  pictures  were  being  shown.  Each 
week  day,  however,  found  me  at  the  British  Museum,  going  in  with 
the  opening  of  the  gates  in  the  morning.  In  order  to  secure  permis- 
sion to  work,  you  had  to  have  a  card,  but  once  you  obtained  it,  you 
could  take  a  special  seat  and  books  were  reserved  for  you.  My  aim 
was  to  present  my  case  from  all  angles,  to  make  the  trial  soundly  his- 
torical so  that  birth  control  would  be  seriously  discussed  in  America. 
Therefore,  I  read  avidly  and  voluminously  many  weighty  tomes,  and 
turned  carefully  the  yellowed,  brittle  pages  of  pamphlets  and  broad- 
sides, finding  much  that  was  dull,  much  that  was  irrelevant,  but  also 
much  that  was  amusing,  if  only  for  the  ponderous  manner  of  its  ex- 
pression. In  the  end  I  had  a  picture  of  what  had  gone  before. 

The  father  of  family  limitation  was  Thomas  Robert  Malthus, 
born  in  1766  at  the  Rookery,  near  Dorking,  Surrey.  In  1798  this 
curate  of  Albury  published  his  Principle  of  Population  and  in  the 
initial  chapter  laid  down  his  famous  postulates :  "first,  that  food 
is  necessary  to  the  existence  of  ihan;  second,  that  the  passion  be- 
tween the  sexes  is  necessary,  and  will  remain  nearly  in  its  present 
state.  .  .  ."  Consequently  the  unrestrained  fertility  of  the  human 
race  was  certain  to  outstrip  the  available  fruits  of  the  earth,  and, 
although  the  natural  checks  of  war,  disease,  and  privation  had  con- 
trolled population  for  centuries,  they  had  brought  misery,  disaster, 
and  death  in  their  train.  His  solution  was  voluntary  and  intelligent 
control  of  the  birth  rate  by  means  of  late  marriage,  which  left  few 
years  for  childbearing.  However,  human  nature  is  such  that  Malthus 
might  preach  forever  without  anyone's  heeding  his  advice.  Not  un- 
til the  profound  economic  depression  which  followed  the  Napoleonic 
Wars  were  people  worried  into  concern  over  surplus  population. 

To  John  Stuart  Mill  the  production  of  large  families  was  to  be  re- 
garded in  the  same  light  as  drunkenness  or  any  other  physical  excess. 
In  the  very  first  edition  of  his  Political  Economy  he  spoke  of  "pru- 
dence, by  which  either  marriages  are  sparingly  contracted,  or  care  is 
taken  that  children  beyond  a  certain  number  shall  not  be  the  fruit," 
and  concluded  that  "the  grand  practical  problem  is  to  find  the  means 
of  limiting  the  number  of  births."  But  he  left  it  merely  as  a  grand, 
practical  problem. 


126  MARGARET    SANGER 

Francis  Place,  the  master  tailor  of  Charing  Cross,  was  born  in  a 
private  debtors'  prison  kept  by  his  father  in  Vinegar  Yard.  He  was 
the  first  to  suggest  the  idea  of  contraception  as  a  remedy  for  pov- 
erty, but  was  more  practical  in  his  preaching  than  in  his  perform- 
ance, fathering  as  he  did  fifteen  children.  In  1822  he  published  Illus- 
trations and  Proofs  of  the  Principle  of  Population: 

If,  above  all,  it  were  once  clearly  understood,  that  it  was  not  dis- 
reputable for  married  persons  to  avail  themselves  of  such  precaution- 
ary means  as  would,  without  being  injurious  to  health,  or  destructive 
of  female  delicacy,  prevent  conception,  a  sufficient  check  might  at 
once  be  given  to  the  increase  of  population  beyond  the  means  of  sub- 
sistence ;  vice  and  misery,  to  a  prodigious  extent,  might  be  removed 
from  society,  and  the  object  of  Mr.  Malthus,  Mr.  Godwin,  and  of 
every  philanthropic  person,  be  promoted. 

Place  had  educated  himself  on  Adam  Smith,  Locke,  Hume, 
Thomas  Paine,  and  Burke.  To  his  remarkable  library  came  many 
notable  thinkers  and  men  of  letters.  Among  them  was  Robert  Owen, 
the  textile  industrialist,  who,  in  his  Moral  Physiology,  offered  openly 
a  method  of  contraception : 

I  sit  down  to  write  a  little  treatise,  which  will  subject  me  to  abuse 
from  the  self-righteous,  to  misrepresentation  from  the  hypocritical, 
and  to  reproach  even  from  the  honestly  prejudiced. 

He  spoke  to  young  men  and  women  who  still  believed  in  virtue 
and  happiness.  "A  human  being  is  a  puppet,  a  slave,  if  his  ignorance 
is  to  be  the  safeguard  of  his  virtue."  In  reply  to  the  accusation  that 
coitus  interruptus  was  unnatural,  he  pointed  out  that  the  thwarting 
of  any  human  wish  or  impulse  might  be  so  termed.  "If  this  trifling 
restraint  is  to  be  called  unnatural,  what  shall  be  said  of  celibacy?" 

Owen  in  his  youth  had  been  impressed  by  the  sufferings  of  the 
working  classes,  and,  in  a  first  effort  to  lighten  the  burden  of  his  em- 
ployees, had  instituted  many  reforms  in  the  New  Lanark  Mills,  him- 
self prospering  materially  in  so  doing ;  he  was  less  successful  when  he 
emigrated  to  the  United  States  and  at  New  Harmony,  Indiana,  estab- 
lished a  short-lived  communal  colony.  However,  his  coming  to 
America  had  at  least  one  important  result.  His  book  influenced  Doctor 
Charles  Knowlton  of  Boston  to  write  a  tract  entitled  Fruits  of  Phi^ 


WE   SPEAK   THE   SAME   GOOD   TONGUE  127 

losophy  in  which  he  recommended  a  chemical  formula  and  other 
methods  to  prevent  conception.  I  had  not  found  a  trace  of  this  in  my 
previous  research,  even  in  Boston  where  it  had  been  published. 

Knowlton's  reaffirmation  of  the  desirability  both  from  a  political 
and  social  point  of  view  for  mankind  to  be  able  to  limit  at  will  the 
number  of  offspring  without  sacrificing  the  attendant  gratification 
of  the  reproductive  instinct,  would  have  been  little  noticed  had  it  not 
been  for  the  repercussion  in  England  forty  years  later. 

During  the  early  Victorian  uprush  of  industrialism  a  man's  chil- 
dren had  been  breadwinners,  and  family  limitation  had  naturally 
lapsed.  But  when  humanitarian  legislation  had  begun  to  rescue  chil- 
dren from  factories,  the  population  specter  had  shown  itself  once 
more. 

In  1 86 1  was  formed  the  Malthusian  League,  designed  to  influence 
public  opinion  and  overcome  the  prevailing  misconception  of  Mal- 
thusianism,  and  in  1876  a  Bristol  bookseller  brought  out  an  English 
edition  of  Fruits  of  Philosophy.  He  was  promptly  arrested  on  the 
charge  of  publishing  an  obscene  book,  and  sentence  was  suspended 
on  his  plea  of  guilty. 

The  brilliant  rationalist  and  freethinker,  Charles  Bradlaugh,  a  re- 
doubtable personality,  together  with  Annie  Besant,  later  the  renowned 
Theosophist  but  then  a  young  rebel,  started  a  printing  partnership  and 
sold  the  pamphlet.  Although  not  approving  it  in  all  its  details  they 
determined  to  contest  the  right  to  publish  it  and  to  prove  that  pre- 
vention of  conception  was  not  obscene. 

Extraordinary  interest  was  aroused  in  their  trial  before  Lord 
Chief  Justice  Cockburn  and  a  special  jury.  The  Solicitor  General 
himself  appeared  as  chief  counsel  for  the  prosecution.  Taking  a  copy 
of  Fruits  of  Philosophy  in  his  hands  he  opened  it  solemnly  and  said, 
"It  is  really  extremely  painful  to  me,"  then  hesitating,  "very  painful 
to  me  to  have  to  read  this."  But  he  did  so. 

Bradlaugh  and  Besant  conducted  their  own  defense.  The  latter 
with  eloquence  and  astonishing  poise  held  the  admiring  attention  of 
the  court  for  two  days.  Nevertheless,  both  were  convicted  of  defam- 
ing the  morals  of  the  public,  sentenced  to  six  months  in  jail  and  a 
thousand-dollar  fine,  and  required  to  put  up  guarantees  of  twenty- 
five  hundred  dollars  for  good  behavior  during  the  next  two  years. 


128  MARGARET    SANGER 

The  case  was  immediately  appealed.  Fortunately  the  upper  court 
dismissed  it  on  a  technicality,  because,  specific  evidence  of  obscenity 
was  not  included;  if  the  words  were  polluting  they  had  to  appear  in 
the  record.  4 

This  decision  settled  for  all  time  in  England  that  contraception 
was  not  to  be  classed  among  the  obscenities.  As  a  result,  new  life 
was  injected  into  the  Malthusian  League  and  its  name  was  changed 
to  the  Neo-Malthusian  Society.  In  the  first  issue  of  its  monthly  jour- 
nal it  set  forth  a  modest  claim :  "We  have  the  ONLY  REMEDY  that 
the  disease  of  society  can  be  cured  by."  Instead  of  the  impractical  ad- 
vice of  Malthus  to  marry  late,  the  Neo-Malthusians  advised  early 
marriage,  the  use  of  contraceptive  methods,  and  children  born  ac- 
cording to  the  earning  capacity  of  the  father ;  a  man's  station  in  life 
should  determine  the  number  of  his  children.  Furthermore,  they  in- 
tended one  by  one  to  "prick  the  flimsy  bubbles  of  emigration,  lessened 
production,  and  home  colonization,  which  are  from  time  to  time  put 
forward."  The  emphasis  was  still  placed  on  the  social  and  economic 
aspects  rather  than  the  personal  tragedies  of  women. 

That  was  in  1876;  now  in  1914  the  Drysdales,  Dr.  C.  V.  and 
his  wife,  Bessie,  were  the  guiding  spirits  of  the  Society.  They  had  a 
long  heritage  of  Malthusianism  behind  them ;  the  uncle  of  the  former, 
Dr.  George  Drysdale,  fresh  from  Edinburgh  in  1854,  had  anony- 
mously published  his  Elements  of  Social  Science,  which  had  gone 
into  fifteen  languages.  He  had  even  himself  studied  Chinese  to  en- 
sure a  reasonably  accurate  translation  in  that  tongue.  In  the  darkest 
days  of  Victorianism,  this  young  physician  had  included  the  New 
Woman  in  his  interpretation  of  Malthus.  Both  he  and  his  brother 
Charles,  also  a  physician,  had  been  in  love  with  Alice  Vickery,  who 
had  chosen  the  latter  and  borne  him  a  son,  the  present  C.V. 

Alice  Vickery  was  as  great  in  her  day  as  Mary  Wollstonecraft  in 
hers.  After  a  tremendous  struggle,  which  included  getting  her  de- 
gree in  Dublin  and  her  training  in  Paris,  she  had  proved  her  right  to 
enter  the  medical  profession,  and  had  become  the  first  woman  doctor 
in  England. 

My  keenest  desire  was  to  get  in  touch  with  the  Drysdales.  They 
invited  me  to  tea  at  their  offices — offices  in  the  English  sense,  not 
ours.  I  squelched  through  the  inevitable  rain  to  Queen  Anne's  Cham- 


WE   SPEAK   THE   SAME   GOOD   TONGUE  120, 

bers  and  was  astonished  to  find  nothing  on  the  door  except  Dr.  C.  V. 
Drysdale's  name.  The  term  Malthusian  was  not  considered  proper 
according  to  the  landlord's  ideas  of  propriety.  In  fact,  throughout 
England  the  word  brought  up  antagonism.  People  crossed  the  street 
to  avoid  it. 

I  entered  a  sitting  room,  gay  with  chintz-covered  chairs  and  a. sofa, 
pillows  at  the  back,  quite  fitted  to  Queen  Anne's  own  day.  A  fire  was 
burning  cheerily,  yet  even  this  was  not  so  welcome  as  the  open  arms 
and  excitement  with  which  I  was  greeted,  not  only  by  the  Drysdales 
but  also  by  Dr.  Binnie  Dunlop,  dark,  Scotch,  thin,  and  dapper,  in- 
tellectually enthusiastic  although  not  emotionally  so ;  by  Olive  John- 
ston, the  faithful  secretary  who  had  worked  for  many  years  with 
the  Drysdales ;  and  by  F.  W.  Stella  Browne,  an  ardent  Feminist  whose 
faintly  florid  face,  hair  never  quite  white,  and  indefatigable  vivacity 
are  the  same  a  quarter  of  a  century  later.  Many  women  in  causes 
are  like  that ;  something  in  their  spirit  keeps  them  forever  young. 

Dr.  Drysdale  was  then  in  his  early  forties,  slender,  fair,  inclined 
to  be  bald.  In  his  ebullience  he  was  not  at  all  British,  but  his  pleas- 
ing, warm,  and  courteous  personality  was  British  at  its  best.  Bessie 
Drysdale,  about  her  husband's  age,  was  the  practical  member,  dispens- 
ing charming  hospitality.  The  others  were  like  an  army  meeting  me, 
but  she  brought  up  the  rear  with  tea  and  cakes  and  comforting 
things. 

It  seemed  to  me  I  had  seen  them  and  known  them  all  before.  I  was 
immediately  certain  I  had  come  to  the  right  place.  In  the  United 
States  I  had  been  alone,  pulling  against  all  whose  broad,  general 
principles  were  the  same  as  mine  but  who  disapproved  of  my  actions. 
But  these  new  friends  saw  eye  to  eye  with  me.  Instead  of  heaping 
criticism  and  fears  upon  me,  they  offered  all  the  force  of  an  inter- 
national organization  as  well  as  their  encyclopedic  minds  to  back 
me  up. 

The  policy  of  the  Neo-Malthusians  had  been  to  educate  the  edu- 
cators. They  believed  that  once  the  practice  of  family  limitation  had 
been  established  among  the  well-to-do  and  socially  prominent,  it 
would  be  taken  up  by  the  lower  strata.  They  were  not  discouraged, 
although  after  almost  forty  years  success  seemed  as  far  away  as 
ever;  the  working  classes  not  only  evinced  no  desire  for  the  benefits 


I30  MARGARET    SANGER 

of  family  limitation,  but  did  not  even  know  such  a  thing  existed. 

Everybody  in  the  room  appreciated  my  rebellion  and  extended  con- 
gratulations on  a  name  having  been  coined  which  was  so  simple  and 
easy  to  understand  as  birth  control.  When  I  told  them  how  I  had 
managed  the  distribution  of  the  Family  Limitation  pamphlets  Dr. 
Drysdale  stood  up  impetuously  and  said,  "Oh,  would  to  God  we  had 
a  Comstock  law !  There's  nothing  can  so  stir  the  British  people  as  a 
bad  law.  Then  they  will  do  something  to  change  it !" 

That  afternoon  was  one  of  the  most  encouraging  and  delightful 
of  my  life.  The  warmth  of  my  reception  strengthened  me  to  face  the 
future.  It  lessened  my  dreadful  homesickness  and  curbed  the  ever- 
growing impulse  to  escape  from  war-sick  London  and  hurry  back  to 
the  children.  During  my  stay  I  saw  much  of  the  Drysdales  and  their 
group,  and  between  us  all  grew  up  a  close  kinship  which  has  lasted 
through  the  stormy  years. 

I  like  to  think  of  London  at  this  time  chiefly  because  of  all  .my  new 
friends  and  the  laughter  they  brought  me.  Of  late  there  had  been 
little  of  it  in  my  life,  but  with  every  friend  I  had  in  England — more 
than  with  any  other  people  I  have  ever  known — I  laughed,  and  this 
laughter  knit  and  welded  the  bonds  of  comradeship. 

One  day  in  the  British  Museum  I  was  standing  by  the  catalogs, 
which  were  in  the  form  of  books,  waiting  until  a  man  near  me  fin- 
ished the  volume  I  wanted  to  consult.  I  glanced  at  him  idly,  then 
more  closely,  thinking  I  identified  the  profile  from  pictures  I  had 
seen.  When  he  had  put  the  book  down  I  ventured  tentatively,  "Aren't 
you  Edward  Carpenter?" 

Almost  without  looking  at  me  he  replied,  "Yes,  and  aren't  you 
Margaret  Sanger?" 

It  was  a  shock  for  Bertha  Watson  to  hear  this  name  repeated  out 
loud  in  a  public  place.  However,  Mr.  Carpenter's  recognition  was 
readily  explainable.  He  had  been  more  or  less  prepared  to  see  me 
because  he  had  already  received  my  letter  and  had  that  morning  at 
my  rooming  house  been  told  I  never  returned  from  the  British  Mu- 
seum until  evening.  Since  we  could  not  talk  in  this  hall  of  silence, 
we  adjourned  to  the  Egyptian  Room,  and  then  to  lunch.  He  was  hu- 
man, full  of  wit,  fun,  and  humor — a  live  person  who  exuded  mag- 
netism. 


WE   SPEAK   THE   SAME   GOOD   TONGUE  I3I 

Edward  Carpenter  reassured  me  that  what  I  was  doing  was  not 
merely  of  the  present  but  belonged  even  more  to  the  future.  From 
this  fine  spirit  I  drew  confirmation  of  the  purity  of  my  endeavor, 
something  essential  for  me  to  take  back  to  America  if  others  there 
were  to  experience  the  same  sense  of  justification.  We  beyond  the 
Atlantic  were  still  uncertain  of  our  ethics,  and  even  of  our  morals. 
We  needed  the  sanction  of  British  public  opinion  and  the  approval 
of  their  great  philosophers,  so  that  we  could  be  strong  in  our  beliefs. 

During  the  first  weeks  in  England  I  did  not  feel  vehemently  about 
the  War,  especially  as  signs  were  displayed  everywhere,  "Business 
as  usual."  I  supposed  it  would  be  a  little  flurry,  soon  over.  War  talk, 
of  course,  was  universal.  The  German  espionage  system  was  much 
discussed.  I  wondered  whether  it  were  not  the  general  characteristic 
of  the  German  always  to  observe  and  be  accurate  in  detail  which 
made  his  information  valuable.  He  did  the  same  thing  in  the  United 
States,  where  nobody  thought  of  calling  him  a  spy.  Everywhere 
women  were  knitting  socks  and  mitts,  but  I  was  more  impressed  by 
the  fact  they  were  smoking  in  hotel  lobbies — a  new  indication  of 
emancipation  to  me — and  even  rolling  their  own  cigarettes.  If  a 
woman  came  in  for  tea,  without  a  word  being  said,  a  bell  hop  pro- 
duced her  own  box  of  tobacco.  When  she  left,  it  was  returned  to  its 
proper  place. 

As  the  months  went  on,  however,  to  be  an  American  became  almost 
as  unlucky  as  to  be  a  German.  Whoever  wished  to  remain  safely  in 
England  must  agree  with  England,  give  over  every  vestige  of  in- 
dependent thinking  or  free  expression.  Wherever  I  went  I  heard 
mention  of  "Traitorous  America."  At  one  dining-car  table  a  gray- 
haired  Englishman,  unaware  of  my  nationality,  asserted,  "Ameri- 
cans will  do  anything  for  money." 

"Yes,"  agreed  his  companion.  "They  do  not  care  whom  their 
bullets  kill.  They  get  paid  for  them."  He  was  a  young  Dutchman, 
apparently  just  returned  from  the  East  Indies,  and  the  conversation 
between  the  two  developed  briskly.  Americans  were  a  "mixed  breed 
without  souls ;  they  had  none  of  the  qualities  which  make  a  nation 
great — no  traditions,  history,  art,  music,  absolutely  nothing  but 
their  money;  they  had  to  come  to  Europe  for  everything — to  Eng- 
land for  laws,  customs,  and  morals,  to  France  for  fashions  and  arts ; 


I32  MARGARET    SANGER 

they  were  human  leeches  fastened  on  Europe  without  incentive,  orig- 
inality, or  creative  ability ;  they — " 

I  interrupted,  "What  do  you  want  America  to  do?  Why  should 
she  get  into  this?  Does  she  owe  loyalty  to  England  or  France  or 
Russia?" 

"Oh,  no,  but  for  Belgium.  America  signed  the  Hague  Treaty  with 
the  rest  of  us,  and  she  has  not  stood  by  it." 

To  this  I  advanced  the  argument,  "We  Americans  are  not  like 
Europeans.  We  are  a  heterogeneous  mixture  of  all  the  fighting  forces 
and  nations  of  the  world.  We  include  the  Irish  who  hate  England, 
and  Jews  who  hardly  can  be  said  to  love  Russia.  A  large  part  of  our 
population — industrious,  civil,  reliable,  and  prosperous — are  Ger- 
mans, with  whom  our  Scandinavians  are  sympathetic.  Who  then  have 
we  to  ally  against  Germany  ?  And  why  ? — a  very  small  far-back  men- 
tion of  gratitude  to  France  for  her  help  in  our  Revolution  against 
British  rule — and  the  Statue  of  Liberty." 

On  the  whole  I  came  more  nearly  being  a  nationalist  when  I  left 
England  than  when  I  went  there.  I  had  to  do  such  battle  to  explain 
the  United  States  that,  almost  involuntarily,  I  felt  myself  becoming 
less  of  an  internationalist.  It  was  a  strange  feeling,  as  though  some- 
body you  knew  and  loved  were  being  criticized,  and  you  took  up  the 
cudgels  in  defense. 


Chapter  Eleven 


HAVELOCK  ELLIS 


"He  zvho  ascends  to  mountain-tops  shall  find 
Their  loftiest  peaks  most  wrapt  in  clouds  and  snow; 
Round  him,  are  icy  rocks,  and  loudly  blow 
Contending  tempests  on  his  naked  head." 

LORD  BYRON 


i  ,>\>  >\\  fff.  tff,  ttf.  i 

AS  Christmas  approached,  my  loneliness  for  the  children  increased. 
XJLThis  was  their  particular  time.  I  had  messages  from  and  about 
them,  but  these  could  not  give  the  small,  intimate  details ;  the  Atlantic 
was  a  broad  span,  seeming  more  vast  to  letter  writers.  I  missed  their 
voices,  their  caresses,  even  their  little  quarrels.  I  almost  wondered 
whether  solitary  confinement  in  prison  were  not  preferable  to  my 
present  isolation. 

In  the  midst  of  this  stark  yearning  to  be  with  them  and  share  their 
tree  I  received  a  cordial  note  from  Havelock  Ellis  asking  me  to  come 
to  tea.  With  kindly  foresight  he  had  given  me  explicit  directions  how 
to  reach  Fourteen  Dover  Mansions  in  Brixton  across  the  Thames.  I 
boarded  a  crowded  bus  at  Oxford  Circus.  Though  it  was  a  miserable 
day  near  the  dark  end  of  1914,  the  spirit  of  Christmas  was  in  the  air 
and  everyone  was  laden  with  beribboned  bundles  and  bright  pack- 
ages. 

Looking  askance  at  the  police  station  which  occupied  the  lower 
floor  I  climbed  up  the  stairs,  and,  with  the  shyness  of  an  adolescent, 
full  of  fears  and  uncertainties,  lifted  the  huge  brass  knocker.  The 
figure  of  Ellis  himself  appeared  in  the  door.  He  seemed  a  giant  in 
stature,  a  lovely,  simple  man  in  loose-fitting  clothes,  with  powerful 
head  and  wonderful  smile.  He  was  fifty-five  then,  but  that  head  will 
never  change — the  shock  of  white  hair,  the  venerable  beard,  shaggy 

133 


134  MARGARET    SANGER 

though  well-kept,  the  wide,  expressive  mouth  and  deep-set  eyes,  sad 
even  in  spite  of  the  humorous  twinkle  always  latent. 

I  was  conscious  immediately  that  I  was  in  the  presence  of  a  great 
man,  yet  I  was  startled  at  first  by  his  voice  as  he  welcomed  me  in. 
It  was  typically  English,  high  and  thin.  I  once  talked  to  a  prisoner 
at  Sing  Sing  who  had  been  in  the  death  house  for  three  years  and 
could  speak  only  in  whispers  thereafter.  Ellis  had  been  a  hermit  for 
twenty-five.  He  had  lived  in  the  Bush  in  Australia,  and  later  se- 
cluded himself  in  his  study.  Nevertheless,  the  importance  of  what 
he  had  to  say  much  more  than  made  up  for  the  instrument  which 
conveyed  it. 

He  led  me  to  the  living  room  through  which  the  cheerless  twilight 
of  a  winter  afternoon  in  London  barely  penetrated,  and  seated  me 
before  a  little  gas  fire.  Some  rooms  impress  you  as  ghastly  cold  even 
when  hot.  This  one,  though  lacking  central  heating,  had  the  warmth 
of  many  books.  He  lit  two  candles  on  the  mantel,  which  flickered 
softly  over  his  features,  giving  him  the  aspect  of  a  seer. 

We  sat  down  and  quiet  fell.  I  tried  a  few  aimless  remarks  but  I 
stuttered  with  embarrassment.  Ellis  was  still.  Small  talk  was  not 
possible  with  him;  you  had  to  utter  only  the  deepest  truths  within 
you.  No  other  human  being  could  be  so  silent  and  remain  so  poised 
and  calm  in  silence. 

While  Ellis  was  preparing  tea  in  the  kitchen  he  left  me  to  look  over 
his  library  and  the  most  recent  news  from  America.  He  had  laid  out 
and  marked  certain  pertinent  items  which  he  thought  might  not  have 
come  to  my  attention.  This,  I  later  found,  was  one  of  his  most  en- 
dearing characteristics.  He  always  entered  into  the  life  of  the  other 
person  in  little  details,  never  forgetting  even  the  kind  of  bread  or 
olives,  fruits  or  wines,  you  preferred.  His  detachment  was  not  in- 
compatible with  sympathy. 

Soon  appeared  a  large  tray,  laden  with  tea,  cakes,  and  bread  and 
butter,  and  we  sat  down  before  the  humming  flame  and  talked  and 
talked ;  and  as  we  talked  we  wove  into  our  lives  an  intangible  web  of 
mutual  interests.  I  began  to  realize  then  that  the  men  who  are  truly 
great  are  the  easiest  to  meet  and  understand.  After  those  first  few 
moments  I  was  at  peace,  and  content  as  I  had  never  been  before. 
Entirely  unaware  of  the  reverence  he  aroused,  Ellis  pasted  no  labels 


HAVELOCK   ELLIS  1 35 

on  himself,  had  no  poses,  made  no  effort  to  impress.  He  was  simply, 
quite  un-self consciously,  what  he  was. 

When  he  asked  me  to  describe  the  details  of  how  I  had  locked 
horns  with  the  law,  I  spoke  glowingly  of  the  heartening  approval 
which  the  Drysdales  had  just  given  me.  He  did  not  show  the  same 
enthusiasm ;  in  fact  he  was  rather  concerned,  and  not  so  ready  with 
praise  for  my  lack  of  respect  for  the  established  order,  believing  so 
strongly  in  my  case  that  he  wanted  me  to  avoid  mistakes.  I  think  his 
influence  was  always  more  or  less  subduing  and  moderating;  he 
tried  to  get  me,  too,  to  take  the  middle  road.  Though  he  occasion- 
ally alluded  to  some  of  the  more  amusing  phases  of  the  trial  of  his 
own  work,  he  had  pushed  it  into  the  back  of  his  mind. 

This  monumental  study  intended  for  doctors  and  psychologists 
had  been  projected  when  Ellis  was  a  medical  student  of  nineteen.  But 
his  short  practice  of  medicine,  his  editing  of  the  Mermaid  Series  of 
Old  British  Dramatists,  and  the  preparation  of  several  sociological 
treatises,  had  intervened  before,  in  1898,  Sexual  Inversion,  the  first 
volume,  had  appeared.  George  Bedborough,  printer,  had  been  ar- 
rested for  selling  a  copy,  and  charged  with  "publishing  an  obscene 
libel  with  the  intention  of  corrupting  the  laws  of  Her  Majesty's 
subjects."  Ellis,  the  scholar,  preferred  to  ignore  controversy;  the 
martyr's  crown  would  not  have  coincided  favorably  with  calm  and 
dispassionate  research.  Judging  it  merely  stupid  of  the  British  Gov- 
ernment to  have  pushed  the  case  to  trial,  he  suspended  the  sale  of 
the  volume  immediately,  so  disappointed  that  his  own  countrymen 
did  not  understand  his  motives  that  he  stated  then  and  there  he 
would  not  have  his  other  volumes  published  in  England,  and  he 
never  has. 

He,  beyond  any  other  person,  has  been  able  to  clarify  the  ques- 
tion of  sex,  and  free  it  from  the  smudginess  connected  with  it  from 
the  beginning  of  Christianity,  raise  it  from  the  dark  cellar,  set  it  on 
a  higher  plane.  That  has  been  his  great  contribution.  Like  an  alche- 
mist, he  transmuted  the  psychic  disturbance  which  had  followed  my 
reading  of  his  books  into  a  spiritual  essence. 

We  had  many  things  to  discuss,  but  suddenly  it  dawned  upon  me 
that  I  must  have  outstayed  my  time.  Seven  o'clock  struck  before  I 
realized  how  late  it  was.  It  had  seemed  so  short  to  me. 


136  MARGARET   SANGER 

I  was  not  excited  as  I  went  back  through  the  heavy  fog  to  my 
own  dull  little  room.  My  emotion  was  too  deep  for  that.  I  felt  as 
though  I  had  been  exalted  into  a  hitherto  undreamed-of  world. 

Some  of  my  new  friends,  Guy  Aldred,  Henry  Sara,  and  Rose 
Witcop,  invited  me  to  tea  with  them  Christmas  Eve.  Rose  was  de- 
liberate in  her  movements,  tall  and  dark,  with  straight  black  hair 
falling  low  over  her  forehead  and  caught  at  the  nape  of  the  neck. 
She  and  Guy  were  both  ardent  pacifists.  A  few  days  earlier  I  had 
overheard  them  reproving  their  son,  aged  six,  for  suggesting  that 
Santa  Claus  bring  him  some  lead  soldiers.  He  had  seen  uniforms  in 
every  street  and  toy  replicas  in  every  shop  window;  all  little  boys 
were  having  them.  I  had  not  been  able  to  send  many  presents  to  my 
children,  and  before  leaving  the  house  slipped  into  his  room.  He  was 
sound  asleep  and  his  clothes  were  stretched  out  neatly  at  the  foot  of 
his  bed.  Outraging  my  own  principles  I  tucked  a  box  of  soldiers  un- 
der the  blanket  so  that  he  might  see  this  martial  array  the  first  thing 
in  the  morning. 

Rose  and  Guy  were  thoroughly  disgusted  with  me. 

Much  that  evening  combined  to  stir  me.  Carol  singers  paraded 
Torrington  Square,  group  after  group  lifting  plaintive  voices  in  Good 
King  Wenceslas  and  We  Three  Kings  of  Orient  Are.  I  was  head- 
achy but  I  went  out  and  strolled  about  the  streets  to  see  Merrie  Eng- 
land at  Yuletide.  I  had  on  so  much  clothing  that  I  could  scarcely 
walk,  and  still  I  was  icy  cold.  It  was  just  about  a  year  since  I  had  left 
France  with  the  children,  never  to  be  reunited  with  Bill. 

Since  I  am  slow  in  my  decisions  and  cannot  separate  myself  from 
past  emotions  quickly,  all  breaches  must  come  gradually.  A  measure 
of  frustration  is  an  inevitable  accompaniment  to  endeavor.  My  mar- 
riage had  not  been  unhappy;  I  had  not  let  it  be.  It  had  not  failed 
because  of  lack  of  love,  romance,  wealth,  respect,  or  any  of  those 
qualities  which  were  supposed  to  cause  marital  rifts,  but  because  the 
interests  of  each  had  widened  beyond  those  of  the  other.  Develop- 
ment had  proceeded  so  fast  that  our  lives  had  diverged,  due  to  that 
very  growth  which  we  had  sought  for  each  other.  I  could  not  live 
with  a  human  being  conscious  that  my  necessities  were  thwarting  or 
dwarfing  his  progress. 

It  had  been  a  crowded  year,  encompassing  the  heights  and  depths 


HAVELOCK  ELLIS  137 

of  feeling.  Christmas  Eve  was  too  much  for  me.  I  went  back  again 
and  sat,  wondering  whether  the  children  were  well  and  contented.  The 
next  morning  came  a  cable  from  them,  flowers  from  Bill,  and  a  nice 
note  from  Havelock  Ellis. 

Thereafter  Havelock  aided  me  immensely  in  my  studies  by  guid- 
ing my  reading.  Tuesdays  and  Fridays  were  his  days  at  the  British 
Museum,  and  he  often  left  little  messages  at  my  seat,  listing  helpful 
articles  or  offering  suggestions  as  to  books  which  might  assist  me  in 
the  particular  aspect  I  was  then  engaged  upon. 

If  when  traveling  about  with  him  on  the  tram,  going  to  a  concert, 
shopping  for  coffee  and  cigarettes  outside  the  Museum,  a  thought 
came  to  him,  he  would  pull  out  a  bit  of  paper  and  jot  down  notes. 
That  was  how  he  compiled  his  material  for  books,  gathering  it  piece- 
meal and  storing  it  away  in  envelopes.  Anything  on  the  dance  went 
into  the  dance  envelope,  music  into  music,  and  so  on.  As  soon  as  any 
one  became  full  enough  to  attract  his  attention,  he  took  it  out  and 
started  to  make  something  of  it. 

Sometimes  we  dined  together  at  a  Soho  restaurant;  occasionally 
I  had  tea  at  his  flat.  In  his  combined  kitchen  and  dining  room, 
warmed  by  a  coal  stove,  he  did  his  work,  and  there  also  he  cooked 
meals  for  which  he  marketed  himself.  He  was  proud  of  being  able 
to  lay  a  fire  with  fewer  sticks  and  less  paper  than  an  expert  char- 
woman, and  once  said  he  would  rather  win  praise  for  the  creation  of 
a  salad  than  of  an  essay. 

One  of  the  four  rooms  was  set  aside  for  the  use  of  his  wife, 
Edith.  She  preferred  the  country  and  lived  on  her  farm  in  Cornwall, 
whereas  Havelock  loved  to  be  in  the  city;  though  he  was  not  a  part 
of  it,  he  liked  to  hear  it  going  on  about  him.  Whenever  she  came  to 
town  she  found  all  her  books  and  possessions  inviolate;  whenever 
he  went  to  Cornwall  he  found  everything  ready  for  him.  Either  of 
them  could,  on  impulse,  board  a  train  without  baggage  and  in  a  few 
hours  be  at  home. 

Edith  was  short  and  stocky,  high-colored,  curly-haired,  with  mys- 
tical blue  eyes  but  accompanying  them  a  strain  of  practicality.  She 
could  run  the  farm,  look  after  the  livestock,  and  dispose  of  her 
products.  Her  vitality  was  so  great  that  it  sought  other  outlets  in 
writing  fiction. 


I38  MARGARET   SANGER 

Bernard  Shaw  was  once  trying  to  find  his  way  to  the  Ellis  farm 
and  stopped  at  a  cottage  to  inquire  whether  he  was  on  the  right  road. 
The  goodwife  could  not  tell  him. 

"But  I  know  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Ellis  live  near  here." 

She  kept  protesting  nobody  of  that  name  was  in  the  neighborhood 
until  Shaw  pointed  to  a  house  which  appeared  as  though  it  might  be 
the  one.  "Who  lives  there?" 

"Two  strangers." 

"What  do  they  do?" 

"Oh,  the  man  he  writes  out  of  other  folks'  books,  but  she  writes 
out  of  her  head." 

The  person  who  saw  most  of  Havelock  was  Olive  Schreiner,  a 
long-standing  friend  of  his  and  of  Edith.  I  was  delighted  at  the 
chance  of  meeting  the  author  of  Woman  and  Labor  and  of  another 
favorite,  The  Story  of  an  African  Farm.  She  had  just  come  to  Eng- 
land for  the  first  time  in  twenty-five  years  and  been  caught  in  the 
War. 

Knowing  Havelock  to  be  a  philosopher,  I  had  expected  him  to  be 
an  elderly  man,  but,  despite  his  white  hair,  had  found  him  young, 
physically  and  mentally.  Olive  Schreiner's  writings  were  so  alive 
that  I  had  visualized  a  young  woman.  Instead,  although  her  hair  was 
black,  her  square  and  stout  Dutch  body  was  old  and  spread.  She  had, 
perhaps,  been  partly  aged  by  the  frightful  asthma  from  which  she 
had  suffered  for  so  many  years.  The  effect  was  enhanced  by  the  dark 
surroundings  of  the  shabby  hotel  in  which  I  first  saw  her. 

Certainly  another  contributing  factor  was  her  despondence  over 
the  War.  Although  her  mother  was  English,  her  father  Dutch,  and 
she  a  British  subject,  her  Germanic  name  was  causing  her  the  most 
harrowing  complications.  Fellow  hotel  guests  of  her  own  sex,  when 
they  spied  her  name  on  the  register  or  heard  her  paged,  insisted  to 
the  manager  that  either  she  should  be  removed  or  they  were  going 
to  seek  quarters  elsewhere.  She  was  literally  being  hounded  from 
place  to  place. 

Possibly  Olive  felt  the  tragedy  of  the  War  more  than  any  other 
person  I  met  in  London  at  this  time.  She  had  never  believed  that  "the 
boys  would  be  out  of  the  trenches  by  Christmas,"  or  that  business  as 


HAVELOCK   ELLIS  1 39 

usual  could  continue  much  longer.  Already  she  had  seen  the  horrors 
of  armed  conflict  in  South  Africa;  it  seemed  to  begin  lightly,  but 
it  did  not  end  that  way.  She  feared  the  whole  world  might  be  trapped 
in  this  one,  that  internationalism  and  the  peace  movement  were  prac- 
tically finished,  and  that  a  whole  new  generation  had  to  be  born  before 
we  could  recover  what  we  had  lost.  She  appeared  to  me  then  unduly 
disheartened ;  it  was  only  later  when  her  words  came  true  that  I  com- 
prehended how  accurate  were  her  prophecies. 

Better  than  any  living  being  Olive  understood  Havelock.  I  real- 
ized this  during  a  conversation  between  herself  and  Edith.  The  lat- 
ter had  been  in  the  United  States  lecturing  on  three  writers :  her  hus- 
band, James  Hinton,  whom  he  admired  tremendously,  and  Edward 
Carpenter.  Her  reception  had  convinced  her  the  name  of  Ellis  had 
gone  beyond  the  borders  of  England,  and  she  wanted  him  to  return 
with  her  the  following  year  to  reap  some  of  the  reward  of  the  respect 
thousands  of  Americans  had  for  him. 

Havelock  was  terror-stricken,  first  at  the  idea  of  coming  to  a  new 
country,  and  second  at  the  mere  mention  of  speaking  in  public.  He 
could  imagine  no  tortures  worse  than  these.  But  in  order  to  please 
Edith,  whom  he  loved  dearly,  and  also  because  her  persistency  and 
determination  were  so  great  that  he  found  it  hard  to  oppose  her,  he 
agreed  to  leave  it  to  the  three  of  us. 

Edith  and  I  had  called  on  Olive  to  talk  it  over.  She,  as  usual,  had 
just  recently  moved.  This  time  she  was  more  cheerful,  and  after  tea 
we  took  up  the  momentous  question  of  the  destiny  of  another  indi- 
vidual. Edith,  with  her  customary  fire  and  fervor,  started  in  to  per- 
suade Olive,  Havelock's  lifelong  friend,  and  me,  his  new  friend, 
that  going  to  America  would  be  a  crowning  glory  for  him.  She  en- 
treated our  aid  in  making  him  decide  to  do  so. 

Olive  characteristically  listened  with  rapt  attention  until  Edith  had 
finished.  Then  she  turned  to  me.  "What  do  you  think  Havelock 
should  do?" 

I,  knowing  how  much  Americans  expected  of  a  speaker  in  the 
way  of  voice,  personality,  and  gift  of  oratory,  and  also  how  easily 
they  could  be  disappointed  unless  gestures  and  external  appearance 
fulfilled  their  anticipations,  concluded  he  would  not  find  this  crown 


140  MARGARET   SANGER 

of  glory  or  this  universal  acclaim,  and  that  he  would  probably  return 
disillusioned  after  the  first  fanfare  of  publicity.  I  said,  without  giv- 
ing my  reasons,  "I  don't  think  he  should  go." 

"Have  either  of  you  asked  Havelock  what  he  wants  to  do?"  Olive 
questioned. 

"I  have,"  said  Edith,  "and  he  doesn't  want  to." 

"Then  that  settles  the  matter  entirely,"  replied  Olive.  "Nobody 
has  the  authority  to  make  another  do  what  he  doesn't  want  to,  no 
matter  how  good  you  or  I  or  any  of  us  think  it  might  be  for  him. 
I  myself  will  never  take  a  step  that  my  instinct  or  intuition  tells  me 
not  to.  I  am  guided  wholly  by  that  instinct,  and  if  I  should  awaken 
tomorrow  morning  and  my  inner  voice  told  me  to  go  to  the  top  of 
the  Himalayas,  I  would  pack  up  and  go." 

This  brief  speech  determined  the  question  for  Havelock,  his  right 
to  stay  snugly  in  London,  and  to  give  up  all  the  adventure  Edith  had 
planned  for  him. 

Olive,  in  her  commonly  dark  mood,  was  encouraged  more  by  the 
work  being  done  for  women  in  birth  control  than  by  anything  else. 
She  herself,  who  had  had  but  one  child,  which  had  died,  realized  its 
significance.  The  last  time  I  saw  her  she  put  both  arms  around  me 
and  said,  "We  may  never  meet  again,-  but  your  endeavor  is  the  bright 
star  shining  through  the  black  clouds  of  war." 

She  was  not  able  to  go  back  to  South  Africa  until  the  War  was 
over.  One  morning,  not  long  afterwards,  she  was  found  dead  in  her 
bed.  According  to  her  instructions,  her  little  child  and  beloved  dog 
were  removed  from  their  old  resting  places  and  Kaffirs  carried  the 
three  of  them  to  the  peak  of  a  mountain  outside  Queenstown,  where 
they  have  since  reposed  on  their  high  eminence. 

Ellis  has  been  called  the  greatest  living  English  gentleman.  But 
England  alone  cannot  claim  him ;  he  belongs  to  all  mankind.  I  define 
him  as  one  who  radiates  truth,  energy,  and  beauty.  I  see  him  in  a 
realm  above  and  beyond  the  shouting  and  the  tumult.  Captains  and 
kings  come  and  go.  Lilliputian  warriors  strut  their  hour,  and  bound- 
ary lines  between  nations  are  made  and  unmade.  Although  he  takes  no 
active  share  in  this  external  trafficking,  he  does  not  dwell  apart  in  an 
ivory  tower  of  his  own  construction. 

This  Olympian  seems  to  be  aloof  from  the  pain  of  the  world,  yet 


HAVELOCK   ELLIS  141 

he  has  penetrated  profoundly  into  the  persistent  problems  of  the 
race.  Nothing  human  is  alien  to  his  sympathy.  His  knowledge  is 
broad  and  deep;  his  wisdom  even  deeper.  He  makes  no  strident, 
blatant  effort  to  cry  aloud  his  message,  but  gradually  and  in  ever- 
increasing  numbers,  men  and  women  pause  to  listen  to  his  serene 
voice. 

Here  is  a  phenomenon  more  amazing  than  the  achievements  of 
radio-activity.  Despite  all  the  obstacles  and  obstructions  that  have 
hindered  his  expression,  his  truth  has  filtered  through  to  minds  ready 
to  receive  it.  His  philosophy,  if  it  can  be  reduced  to  an  essence,  is 
that  of  life  more  abundant — attained  through  a  more  complete  un- 
derstanding of  ourselves  and  an  unruffled  charity  to  all. 

To  Havelock  Ellis  we  owe  our  concept  of  that  Kingdom  of  God 
within  us,  that  inner  world  which  hides  all  our  inherent  potentiali- 
ties for  joy  as  well  as  suffering.  Thanks  to  him  we  realize  that  hap- 
piness must  be  the  fruit  of  an  attitude  towards  life,  that  it  is  in  no 
way  dependent  upon  the  rewards  or  the  gifts  of  fortune.  Like  St. 
Francis  of  Assisi,  he  teaches  the  beauty  of  nature,  of  his  brother  the 
sun  and  his  sister  the  moon,  of  birds  and  fish  and  animals,  and  all 
the  pageantry  of  the  passing  seasons. 

I  have  never  felt  about  any  .other  person  as  I  do  about  Havelock 
Ellis.  To  know  him  has  been  a  bounteous  privilege;  to  claim  him 
friend  my  greatest  honor. 


Chapter  Twelve 


STORK  OVER  HOLLAND 


VVX    »«  AV\  ,<,\V    \V\  .VOL  .xx*  ,xv>  .>v>  .xvv  .vsv  .vvv  . 
*iJ9  W?  'iii  'Hi  "iii  'id?  'id?  '???  'id?  ???  *???   id?  , 

DAY  after  day  the  attendants  at  the  British  Museum  piled  books 
and  pamphlets  on  the  table  before  my  seat.  As  I  pored  over 
the  vital  statistics  of  Europe  it  seemed  to  me  that  chiefly  in  the 
Netherlands  was  there  a  force  operating  towards  constructive  race 
building.  The  Dutch  had  long  since  adopted  a  common-sense  attitude 
on  the  subject,  looking  upon  having  a  baby  as  an  economic  luxury 
— something  like  a  piano  or  an  automobile  that  had  to  be  taken  care 
of  afterwards. 

The  Drysdales  often  mentioned  the  great  work  done  by,  Dr.  Aletta 
Jacobs  of  Amsterdam  and  Dr.  Johannes  Rutgers  of  the  Hague.  The 
story  of  Dr.  Jacobs'  conquest  of  nearly  insuperable  obstacles  to  a 
medical  career  was  particularly  appealing.  Born  in  1854  in  the  Prov- 
ince of  Groningen,  she  was  the  eighth  child  of  a  physician  who,  on 
eight  hundred  dollars  a  year,  had  to  support  his  wife  and  eleven  chil- 
dren. Even  before  adolescence  she  had  asked  defiantly,  "What's  the 
use  of  brains  if  you're  born  a  girl?"  She  was  determined  to  become 
a  doctor  like  her  father,  though  no  woman  had  ever  been  admitted 
to  Groningen  University.  Her  spirit  was  so  indomitable  that  when 
at  seventeen  she  had  passed  the  examinations  and  demanded  entrance, 
she  had  been  permitted  to  listen  for  a  year,  and  then  allowed  to  regis- 
ter as  a  permanent  student. 

In  1878  Dr.  Jacobs  had  finished  her  studies  in  medicine  at  Am- 
sterdam University  and  gone  to  London,  where  she  had  attended  the 
Besant  and  Bradlaugh  trial,  met  the  Fabians,  met  the  Malthusians, 

142 


STORK    OVER   HOLLAND  1 43 

become  an  ardent  suffragist.  This  first  woman  physician  in  the  Neth- 
erlands had  returned  to  Amsterdam  and  there  had  braved  the  disap- 
proval of  her  father's  friends  by  practicing  her  profession  and  by 
opening  a  free  clinic  for  poor  women  and  children,  where  she  gave 
contraceptive  advice  and  information,  the  first  time  this  had  ever 
been  done  in  the  world.  . 

/Within  a  few  years  and  within  a  radius  of  five  miles  the  proportion  \ 
of  stillbirths  and  abortions  as  well  as  venereal  disease  had  started  to  J 
decline,  children  were  filling  the  schools,  people  were  leaving  their 
canal  boats  to  go  into  agriculture.. 

The  Netherlands  being  such  a  small  country,  where  one  person's 
business  was  everybody's  business,  such  changes  could  not  escape 
notice.  Just  about  this  time  Dr.  Charles  R.  Drysdale,  then  President 
of  the  English  League,  had  been  invited  ,to  address  an  International 
Medical  Congress  held  in  Amsterdam.  The  results  of  Dr.  Jacobs' 
clinic  were  so  apparent  that  immediately  thereafter  the  Dutch  Neo- 
Malthusian  League  had  been  formed  and  thirty- four  physicians  had 
joined  it.  "^Vhen  other  centers  were  established,  purely  for  consulta- 
tion, the  word  clinic  was  applied  to  them  also/In  1883  Dr.  Mensinga, 
a  gynecologist  of  Flensburg,  Germany,  had  published  a  description 
of  a  contraceptive  device  called  a  diaphragm  pessary,  which  he  and 
Dr.  Jacobs  had  perfected.  yDr.  and  Madame  Hoitsema  Rutgers  had 
taken  charge  of  the  League  in  1899  with  such  success  that  the  work 
had  spread  through  that  well-ordered  kingdom.  In  recognition  of  its 
extensive  and  valuable  accomplishment,  Queen  Wilhelmina  had  pre- 
sented it  with  a  medal  of  honor  and  a  charter,  and  counted  it  one  of 
the  great  public  utilities. 

•  In  my  statistical  investigations  I  paid  special  attention  to  the  birth 
and  mortality  rates  of  the  Netherlands  to  see  how  they  had  been 
affected  over  this  period  of  thirty-five  years.  They  showed  the  lowest 
maternal  mortality,  whereas  the  United  States  was  at  the  top  of  the 
list;  three  times  more  mothers'  lives  were  being  saved  in  the  little 
dike  country  than  in  my  native  land. furthermore,  the  infant  death 
rate  of  Rotterdam,  Amsterdam,  and  the  Hague,  the  three  cities  in 
which  the  League  was  most  active,  were  the  lowest  of  all  those  in 
the  world. 

During  the  same  period  the  death  rate  had  been  cut  in  half,  but, 


144  MARGARET    SANGER 

surprisingly,  I  found  that  the  birth  rate  had  been  reduced  only  a 
third.  In  other  words,  the  death  rate  had  fallen  faster  than  the  birth 
rate,  which  meant  that  the  population  of  the  Netherlands  was  in- 
creasing more  rapidly  than  that  of  any  other  country  in  Europe. 

I  had  much  difficulty  in  reconciling  these  figures  with  my  precon- 
ceived idea  that  birth  control  would  automatically  bring  about  a  de- 
crease in  population.  Since  it  was  increasing,  then  perhaps  birth  con- 
trol was  not,  after  all,  the  answer  to  the  economic  international  prob- 
lem. If  this  were  true  all  my  calculations  were  going  to  be  upset. 

Impatient  to  go  to  the  Netherlands  and  dig  out  the  real  facts,  not 
only  from  Dutch  records  but  from  personal  observation,  I  decided 
quietly — most  of  my  decisions  in  those  days  were  quiet  ones — to 
cross  the  Channel.  This  implied  possible  unwelcome  encounters  with 
inquisitive  officials,  floating  bombs,  submarines,  and  every  type  of 
inconvenience  and  delay,  but  my  eagerness  made  me  discount  the 
hindrances. 

I  applied. to  the  Dutch  Consul  for  a  visa  to  Bertha  Watson's  pass- 
port. 

"Eighty  cents,  please,"  and  no  questions  asked. 

So  that  I  should  not  have  to  return  to  London  before  going  on  to 
Paris  I  presented  myself  at  the  French  Consulate  also.  I  waited  two 
hours.  "Two  dollars,  please,"  and  still  no  queries. 

I  attached  myself  to  the  end  of  the  long  line  waiting  at  Victoria 
Station  to  have  passports  inspected,  and  was  soon  safely  on.  the  train 
for  Folkestone.  We  were  late  when  we  reached  the  Channel.  Again 
we  lined  up  for  inspection.  Many  Belgian  women  with  four  or  five 
children  were  going  back  to  their  people;  the  sleepy  little  ones  and 
the  tired  women  settled  on  the  platform  to  rest  until  some  had 
gone  through.  Two  detectives  glanced  casually  at  my  passport,  and 
then  allowed  me  to  enter  the  official  chamber.  Inspections  had  been 
growing  steadily  more  strict ;  this  was  the  ultimate  test.  There  sat  in 
a  row  three  officers  in  mufti,  well-fed  and  brusque  with  authority. 
I  handed  my  passport  to  the  first,  who  looked  me  up  and  down  as 
though  I  were  a  treacherous  enemy,  then  pushed  it  over  to  the  next. 
This  man  too  viewed  me  with  suspicion  and  mistrust,  and  pulled  out 
a  notebook,  scanning  the  names  to  see  whether  mine  were  on  the 
proscribed  list.  The  last  of  the  three,  who  was  to  make  the  final  de- 


STORK    OVER   HOLLAND  145 

cision — crisp,  trim,  and  hard  as  nails  in  voice  and  manner — de- 
manded, "What  are  you  going  to  the  Continent  for,  Madam?  An- 
other joy  ride?  You  Americans  must  think  that's  all  this  War 
amounts  to.  Can  you  produce  any  good  reason  for  letting  you 
through?" 

Fortunately  I  was  prepared  for  such  a  contingency.  I  took  out  of 
my  purse  a  letter  from  Bernarr  MacFadden  asking  me  to  answer  cer- 
tain questions  in  the  form  of  articles  for  Physical  Culture  such  as  the 
relation  between  the  unfit  and  population  growth.  I  offered  this  docu- 
ment while  those  in  line  behind  me  waited  restively.  He  read  it  me- 
ticulously, taking  longer  than  necessary  as  it  seemed  to  me  in  my 
nervousness.  At  last  he  folded  it  neatly  and  said,  "A  good  work,  this. 
Too  bad  someone  hasn't  done  it  before." 

Then  he  put*  his  last  official  stamp  on  my  various  papers  and  I 
passed  through  for  the  gangplank. 

No  complications  presented  themselves  at  the  Hague,  and  early 
on  a  January  morning  in  191 5  I  registered  at  an  inexpensive  hotel. 
It  was  comforting,  to  hear  a  radiator  sizzling  once  more.  I  joined 
the  other  guests  who  were  cheerfully  breakfasting  together  en  famille 
at  a  single  table,  and,  since  I  spoke  neither  Dutch  nor  German,  silently 
munched  my  black  bread  and  cheese,  downed  the  excellent  coffee,  and 
watched  interestedly.  Though  stolid  in  appearance  like  all  the  Dutch, 
they  were  friendly. 

I  did  not  try  to  telephone  Dr.  Rutgers.  Instead,  though  it  was  not 
yet  nine  o'clock,  I  hailed  a  taxi  and  held  out  to  the  driver  a  slip  of 
paper  on  which  I  had  written  the  street  and  number.  In  response  to 
my  ring  at  the  door  to  which  I  was  delivered,  a  tiny  square  window 
in  the  upper  part  opened  mysteriously  and  a  face — wizened,  aged, 
and  inquisitive — was  framed  in  the  aperture.  It  remained  while  I  ex- 
plained my  mission.  Apparently  trust  was  inspired  because,  my  story 
finished,  the  door  swung  wide  and  the  face,  materialized  into  Dr. 
Rutgers,  ushered  me  into  the  library,  where  I  waited  until  he  came 
back  in  his  street  clothing.  Then  we  went  out  to  a  second  breakfast 
in  a  nearby  cafe. 

The  doctor  turned  out  to  be  a  kindly  little  man,  whose  wife  was 
now  an  invalid.  It  was  hard  for  him  to  talk  English.  Most  of  the 
Dutch  had  four  languages,  but  only  those  who  had  lived  in  England 


I46  MARGARET   SANGER 

spoke  English  well.  The  difficulties,  however,  lessened  as  we  nibbled 
brioches  and  sipped  coffee  after  coffee  until  noon.  Warming  to  my 
narrative  of  the  battle  in  the  United  States,  he  shook  his  head  when 
he  thought  of  what  I  might  have  to  face  in  the  future,  and  expressed 
more  concern  over  my  predicament  and  more  heartfelt  sympathy 
with  my  having  had  to  leave  the  children  behind  than  anybody  I  had 
yet  met.  He  was  the  first  person  to  whom  I  had  been  able  to  over- 
flow about  my  personal  sadness. 

On  his  part  Dr.  Rutgers  described  his  hardships  in  keeping  the 
clinics  open  and,  through  the  League,  preventing  adverse  legisla- 
tion. Neo-Malthusianism  had  never  been  popular  anywhere,  no  mat- 
ter what  the  proof  in  the  lessening  of  human  misery  and  suffering. 
Dr.  Rutgers  had  borne  alone  the  brunt  of  all  the  criticism  directed 
at  his  society. 

[  The  Rutgers  method  for  establishing  new  clinics  had  resulted  in 
a  sound  system  for  dealing  with  the  birth  rate.  The  men  and  women 
who  acted  as  his  councilors  understood  that  a  rising  birth  rate,  no 
matter  where  in  the  country,  would  soon  be  followed  by  a  high  in- 
fant mortality  rate.  Accordingly,  they  reported  this  quickly  to  the 
society,  which  sent  a  midwife  or  practical  nurse,  trained  in  the  tech- 
nique standardized  by  Dr.  Rutgers,  into  the  congested  sector  to  set 
up  a  demonstration  clinic.  She  usually  took  an  apartment  with  two 
extra  rooms,  one  for  waiting,  the  other  a  modestly  equipped  office 
like  that  of  any  country  midwife. 

Her  duty  was  to  go  into  the  home  where  a  child  had  died,  inquire 
into  the  cause,  and  give  friendly  advice  regarding  the  mother's  own 
health.  She  also  encouraged  her  not  to  have  another  baby  until  the 
condition  of  ignorance,  poverty,  or  disease,  whichever  it  might  be, 
had  either  been  bettered  or  eliminated.  Whenever  four  had  been  born 
into  such  a  family  this  advice  was  made  more  emphatic. 

As  soon  as  Dr.  Rutgers  had  explained  his  policy  to  me  I  had  that 
most  important  answer  to  the  puzzling  and  bothersome  problem  of 
the  increasing  population  in  the  Netherlands  brought  about  by  birth 
control.  It  was  proper  spacing.  The  numbers  in  a  family  or  the  num- 
bers in  a  nation  might  be  increased  just  as  long  as  the  arrival  of  chil- 
dren was  not  too  rapid  to  permit  those  already  born  to  be  assured  of 
livelihood  and  to  become  assimilated  in  the  community. 


STORK    OVER   HOLLAND  1 47 

Dr.  Rutgers  suggested  I  come  to  his  clinic  the  next  day  and  learn 
his  technique.  He  was  at  the  moment  training  two  midwives  prepar- 
atory to  starting  a  new  center  in  the  outskirts  of  the  Hague.  Under 
his  tutelage  I  began  to  realize  the  necessity  for  individual  instruc- 
tion to  patients  if  the  method  of  contraception  prescribed  was  to  ful- 
fill its  function.  I  wondered  at  the  ease  with  which  this  could  be 
done.  Very  soon  even  I  myself,  unable  to  talk  to  these  women  in 
their  own  tongue,  instructed  seventy-five. 

I  used  to  bombard  the  little  man  with  questions  concerning  each 
case.  I  took  issue  with  him  over  his  autocratic  system  of  dictating 
without  explanation.  Merely  saying,  "This  is  what  you  do.  Do  this 
always,"  had  to  my  mind  no  educational  value. 

"Don't  you  think  it  would  be  a  good  idea  to  tell  your  patients  what 
you're  aiming  at  and  why?"  I  asked. 

"No,  can't  take  time.  They  must  do  what  they're  told." 

His  was  the  doctor's  point  of  view  with  which  I  was  familiar,  but 
with  which  I  could  not  agree. 

It  also  seemed  to  me  a  mistake  to  regard  the  women  merely  as 
units  in  a  sociological  scheme  for  bettering  the  human  race.  On  the 
file  cards  were  inscribed  only  names  and  addresses ;  no  case  histories. 
I  wanted  to  know  so  much  more  about  them.  How  many  children  had 
they  already  had?  How  many  had  they  lost?  What  were  their  hus- 
bands' wages  ?  What  was  the  spacing  in  each  family,  and  what  were 
the  effects?  How  successful  had  been  the  method  of  contraception? 

If  this  information  had  then  been  recorded,  the  birth  control  move- 
ment could  later  have  cited  chapter  and  verse  in  its  own  support. 

After  my  morning's  work  with  Dr.  Rutgers  I  usually  repaired  to 
the  Central  Bureau  of  Statistics')  with  my  three-in-one  translator,  in- 
terpreter, and  guide.  My  findings  were  that  in  all  cities  and  districts 
where  clinics  had  been  established  the  figures  showed  improvement — 
labor  conditions  were  better  and  children  were  going  to  schools, 
which  had  raised  their  educational  standards!  Professional  prostitutes 
were  few,  and  even  these  were  German,  French,  Belgian,  or  English, 
because  Dutch  women  were  encouraged  to  marry  early.  It  made  a  dif- 
ference. From  the  eugenic  standpoint  there  had  been  a  rapid  increase 
in  the  stature  of  the  Dutch  conscript  as  shown  by  army  records.  The 
data  proved  conclusively  that  a  controlled  birth  rate  was  as  beneficial 


I48  MARGARET    SANGER 

as  I  had  imagined  it  might  be,  growing  out  of  the  first  clinic  initiated 
by  the  enterprise  of  Dr.  Aletta  Jacobs. 

I  was,  of  course,  looking  forward  to  meeting  Dr.  Jacobs,  and  sent 
her  a  note  asking  for  the  privilege  of  an  interview.  A  reply  came, 
curt  and  blunt;  she  would  not  see  me.  She  was  not  concerned  with 
my  studies  or  with  me,  because  it  was  a  doctor's  subject  and  one  in 
which  laymen  should  not  interfere.  Already  I  had  come  to  the  same 
conclusion  in  principle,  but  was  dismayed  at  this  first  rebuff  I  had 
encountered.  I  was  also  hurt  as  much  as  I  could  be  hurt  during  that 
period  when  I  seemed  to  be  one  mass  of  aches,  physically  and  men- 
tally. Not  until  much  later  did  I  learn  that  to  be  a  nurse  was  no 
recommendation  in  Europe,  where  she  was  more  like  an  upper  serv- 
ant, a  household  drudge  who  took  care  of  the  sick  instead  of  the 
kitchen. 

For  two  months  I  wandered  about  the  Netherlands,  visiting  clinics 
and  independent  nurses  in  the  Hague,  Rotterdam,  and  Amsterdam. 
In  spite  of  the  League  propaganda  against  commercialization  I  found 
many  shops  in  which  a  woman,  if  she  so  desired,  could  purchase  con- 
traceptive supplies  as  casually  as  you  might  buy  a  toothbrush.  Un- 
fortunately in  some  of  them  she  could  be  examined  and  fitted  by 
saleswomen  who  had  but  little  training  in  technique  and  scant  knowl- 
edge of  anatomy. 'Although  the  Dutch  League  had  several  thousand 
members — each  one  active,  writing  to  papers,  talking  to  friends,  at- 
tending meetings — and  although  fifty-four  clinics  were  in  opera- 
tion, many  well-informed  people  did  not  know  anything  about  them. 
More  surprising  still,  the  medical  profession  as  a  whole  appeared  to 
be  utterly  ignorant  of  the  directed  birth  control  work  that  was  going 
on.  \It  did  not,  therefore,  seem  extraordinary  that  no  inkling  of  all 
this — either  clinics  or  contraceptive  methods — had  ever  reached 
the  United  States,  and  practically  no  attempt  to  copy  it  been  made 
in  England. 

Even  in  this  neutral  country  signs  of  war  were  everywhere.  Along 
the  way  were  soldiers  in  uniform,  armed  and  keeping  guard,  and  at 
the  stations  Red  Cross  wagons  were  in  readiness.  Feeling  among  the 
Dutch  was  greatly  mixed :  Queen  Wilhelmina's  husband  was  a  Ger- 
man ;  the  army  and  the  aristocracy  were  for  the  Triple  Alliance ;  the 
poorer  classes  were  more  influenced  by  the  sufferings  of  the  thou- 


STORK    OVER    HOLLAND  1 49 

sands  and  thousands  of  Belgians  who  had  flocked  to  Dutch  firesides 
for  food  and  shelter. 

Nowhere  else  was  I  so  impressed  with  the  tragedies  of  war.  Often 
about  four  o'clock  I  had  kaffee  Hatch  at  the  home  of  some  Dutch 
lady  who  sat,  very  proper,  while  the  maid  served  coffee,  the  best  in 
Europe,  from  the  big,  white,  porcelain  pot.  I  suspected  most  of  the 
morning  had  been  spent  in  supervising  preparations  for  the  de- 
licious food. 

At  one  of  these  afternoons  I  was  introduced  to  five  German  dele- 
gates who  had  come  to  attend  the  Women's  Peace  Conference.  They 
found  it  difficult  to  forgive  the  stories  of  German  atrocities  which 
England  had  allowed  to  circulate.  I  ventured  to  inquire  how  they 
could  disprove  them,  especially  in  view  of  the  report  of  the  Bryce 
Commission.  "Was  not  war  cruel  and  savage,  and  might  not  these 
things  have  happened  ?" 

"Yes,  yes,"  one  said,  "but  hundreds  of  our  German  boys  are  brought 
back  to  us,  dead  and  alive,  whose  noses  and  ears  have  been  cut  off, 
put  in  packages,  and  taken  to  headquarters  for  reward.  However, 
we  would  not  dream  of  accusing  the  French  or  the  English  soldiers 
of  such  barbarisms.  We  know  that  because  their  code  forbids  them 
to  do  these  things  themselves  they  have  called  in  the  Moors  and  the 
Gurkhas  and  the  savages  from  Africa." 

Unable  to  comprehend  how  those  towards  whom  they  felt  such 
friendliness  could  return  this  sentiment  with  hatred,  the  women  said 
to  me  in  bewilderment,  "Tell  us  really  why  people  who  do  not  know 
us  hate  us  as  they  do."  The  dignity  of  their  sorrow,  the  heavy  bur- 
den of  grief  under  which  they  labored,  the  very  calmness  and  fair- 
ness with  which  they  bore  it,  had  a  quieting  effect. 

The  Netherlands  was  the  place  to  regain  a  certain  sense  of  bal- 
ance, especially  if  you  had  passed  through  England,  where  feeling 
was  so  embittered.  I  overheard  in  Amsterdam  a  most  illuminating 
conversation  between  two  Englishmen  and  a  German.  After  going 
over  the  pros  and  cons,  they  shook  hands  all  around,  agreeing  that 
six  months  after  the  War  was  settled  German  and  English  trade 
would  be  hand  in  glove,  trials  and  grievances  forgotten. 

To  go  directly  to  France  from  the  Netherlands  was  next  to  im- 
possible ;  nor  did  I  find  it  easy  to  travel  roundabout  by  way  of  Eng- 


I50  MARGARET   SANGER 

land,  owing  to  the  recently  instituted  German  submarine  blockade. 
Then  at  last  I  heard  that  a  freighter  was  to  be  sent  to  London  to  test 
it.  Day  after  day  I  went  to  the  docks  for  news,  and  employed  the  in- 
terval with  pleasant  social  contacts. 

Rather  than  have  a  cocktail  before  lunch  or  dinner  the  Dutch  as- 
sembled at  their  favorite  restaurants  for  aperitifs.  The  glass,  with 
winged  rim  spreading  out  about  half  an  inch  from  the  top,  was  filled 
to  overflowing  with  Bols.  You  were  not  supposed  to  touch  it  at  first ; 
instead  you  leaned  over  and  sort  of  scooped  a  little  with  your  mouth 
before  picking  it  up  and  enjoying  it.  The  French  aperitifs  were  pleas- 
ant and  mild,  but  Holland  gin  was  so  strong  and  raw  that  I  marveled 
at  the  way  they  could  take  it  with  a  smile.  I  was  definitely  unequal 
to  the  art. 

One  evening  I  was  invited  to  play  billiards  with  a  Dutchman,  an 
Englishman,  and  a  German.  I  accepted  as  naturally  as  for  a  game  of 
whist.  Afterwards  the  Dutchman  said  that,  though  no  respectable 
Dutch  wife  could  have  played  billiards  in  that  room  without  later 
being  approached  or  insulted,  an  American  woman  could  do  any- 
thing and  still  not  lose  caste.  She  minded  her  own  affairs,  paid  her 
own  bills,  and  even  if  she  were  seen  on  the  streets  late  at  night  with- 
out an  escort  everyone  knew  she  must  be  on  legitimate  business. 

Then  the  Englishman  spoke  to  the  same  effect.  He  said  you  found 
the  American  woman  in  all  sorts  of  out-of-the-way  and  often  ques- 
tionable places,  but  you  needed  only  to  look  into  her  candid  face  to 
find  an  answer  to  what  she  was  doing  there.  European  women  owed 
her  a  great  deal  for  her  pioneering  on  the  Continent.  In  England  it 
was  a  common  sight  to  see  the  most  estimable  women  smoking  ciga- 
rettes in  all  fashionable  restaurants  and  hotels  just  as  in  America. " 

"Just  as  in  America !"  I  gasped,  remembering  my  astonishment  at 
having  seen  women  smoke  publicly  in  London.  "I'm  sure  there  must  be 
some  mistake.  Ladies  are  not  supposed  to  smoke  in  America.  As  an 
example  to  Europe  they're  a  failure,  because  they  haven't  even  won 
that  liberty  for  themselves." 

This  was  a  surprise  to  them  all.  But  the  Dutchman  rallied  to  the 
defense,  shifting  the  subject.  "Nevertheless,  she  is  the  best-dressed 
woman  in  the  world." 


STORK    OVER   HOLLAND  151 

"What  about  the  Parisian?"  I  exclaimed. 

"I  except  none.  I  have  been  over  half  the  globe.  I  have  paid  par- 
ticular attention  to  foreigners,  their  customs,  their  education,  their 
tastes,  and  I  have  been  convinced  that  today  the  Parisian  woman  has 
had  to  yield  to  the  American  in  respect  to  clothes  and  fashion.  Paris 
designs  are  intended  for  the  United  States,  not  for  France  or  Eng- 
land. The  Frenchwoman  may  be  trim  and  neat  and  jaunty,  but  it 
takes  a  woman  of  wealth  in  France  to  be  in  the  fashion,  while  in  New 
York,  every  shopgirl  wears  cheap  editions  of  the  latest  styles." 

The  German  was  deep  in  thought  during  these  speeches,  resting  his 
chin  in  his  hand.  Aroused  by  the  striking  of  the  clock  he  suddenly 
interpolated,  "Why,  you  can  always  tell  an  American  couple  in  Eu- 
rope. The  woman  is  too  bossy,  she  leads  the  way,  she  does  all  the 
talking  and  ordering,  while  the  man  trails  on  behind  her  and  silently 
pays  the  bills." 

"Well,  you  must  have  seen  him  when  he  was  on  his  good  be- 
havior," I  suggested,  "for  at  home  he  is  not  so  silent  about  paying 
the  bills." 

Unabashed,  the  German  continued,  "My  brother  who  has  long 
lived  in  America  says  the  woman  there  is  the  head  of  the  house,  that 
she  manages  all;  her  word  is  law.  Is  this  true ?" 

He  seemed  greatly  disturbed,  and  I  was  about  to  reply,  but  the 
Briton  rose  to  speak.  "Of  course  she  is,  because  she's  far  superior. 
Why,  American  men  have  nothing  in  common  with  the  women.  They 
are  coarse,  blunt,  crude,  while  the  women  are  finely  sensitive,  ex- 
quisite, and  courteous.  The  man  has  nothing  to  give  his  wife  but 
money;  he  comes  home  at  night  and  talks  business,  introduces  into 
his  home  only  friends  who  will  help  him  out  financially,  and  when 
his  wife  discusses  music,  art,  or  literature,  he  falls  asleep  and  snores. 
That's  why  she  brings  her  fortune  into  Europe  for  a  husband.  She 
finds  her  equal  in  the  Frenchman,  the  Italian,  the  Spaniard,  but  par- 
ticularly in  the  Englishman.  For  every  Englishman  is  a  gentleman, 
and  every  American  woman  is  a  lady !" 

The  German  added  a  final  convulsive  note  to  the  settlement  of  the 
woman  problem  by  adding,  "Is  it  true  the  American  husband  not 
only  washes  the  dishes  but  pushes  the  perambulator  ?" 


I52  MARGARET   SANGER 

"Why,  yes,  he  often  does  that." 

"That  is  terr-r-r-rrible,"  he  answered,  the  r's  rolling  out,  and  his 
hands  clasped  tight  to  his  temples. 

And  at  that  we  all  departed  for  our  rest.  But  a  few  days  later  one 
or  another  of  the  quartet  was  demonstrated  right.  News  came  that 
my  boat  was  about  to  leave  at  once,  and  I  sought  out  the  Captain. 
At  the  first  intimation  of  my  errand,  he  waved  his  hands  and  said, 
"No!  No!  No  women!" 

I  kept  on  talking  until  I  made  him  admit  he  was  interested  in 
America,  in  diet,  and  in  population.  When  I  found  he  was  a  reader 
of  Physical  Culture  I  produced  my  open  sesame  letter  and  again  it 
was  more  potent  than  a  passport.  I  stood  reasoning  with  him  on 
the  pier,  until  finally  he  said,  "There's  a  rule  to  take  no  women.  But 
you  Americans  are  not  like  others.  I  think  I  can  put  you  in."  I  was 
allowed  to  embark. 

During  the  voyage  we  were  most  careful,  anchoring  at  dusk,  and 
when  it  was  light  keeping  sharp  watch  for  floating  mines  which 
might  have  broken  loose  from  their  moorings.  It  took  us  two  nights 
and  a  day  to  make  a  crossing  that  ordinarily  occupied  only  nine  or 
ten  hours. 

I  had  plenty  of  time  to  sort  out  my  impressions  and  conclusions 
regarding  the  birth  control  movement.  They  had  been  revolutionized. 
I  could  no  longer  look  upon  it  as  a  struggle  for  free  speech,  because 
I  now  realized  that  it  involved  much  more  than  talks,  books,  or 
pamphlets.  These  were  not  enough. 

Personal  instruction  had  been  proved  to  be  the  best  method,  and  I 
concluded  clinics  were  the  proper  places  from  which  to  disseminate 
information  but  also,  admirable  as  they  were  in  the  Netherlands, 
they  ought  not  to  be  placed  in  the  hands  of  unskilled  midwives,  so- 
cial workers,  or  even  nurses.  These  could,  of  course,  instruct  after 
a  fashion,  but  only  doctors  had  the  requisite  knowledge  of  anatomy 
and  physiology  and  training  in  gynecology  to  examine  properly  and 
describe  accurately:. 

I  had  a  new  goal,  but  how  difficult  and  how  distant  its  attainment 
was  to  be  I  never  dreamed.  *l 


Chapter  Thirteen 


THE  PEASANTS  ARE  KINGS 


I  STAYED  but  a  few  days  in  London  and  then  went  on  to  Paris, 
a  gloomy,  gloomy  city  because  so  many  people  were  garbed  in 
black.  Jaures  had  been  shot.  The  capital  had  already  been  moved  to 
Bordeaux  and  suspicion  and  hysteria  were  in  the  air.  When  I  went 
within  easy  driving  distance  of  Paris  for  lunch  or  dinner,  I  could 
see  the  barbed-wire  entanglements  and  gaps  where  the  trees  had  been 
taken  down  for  better  visibility. 

I  renewed  what  contacts  I  could.  But  everybody  was  too  busy  now 
with  the  War  to  think  of  such  a  subject  as  family  limitation,  which 
to  the  French  had  never  been  anything  to  get  excited  about  because 
they  were  too  used  to  it.  Furthermore,  the  other  side  of  the  question 
was  now  presenting  itself.  They  were  beginning  to  ask,  "If  we  had  a 
larger  population,  could  we  not  have  held  the  Germans  back  ?" 

Again  I  saw  Victor  Dave.  He  was  literally  starving  to  death,  sup- 
ported only  by  friendly  gifts  of  a  few  francs  here  or  there  which 
he  always  accepted  with  laughter ;  what  difference  did  it  make  to  him 
whether  he  lived  a  few  days  longer?  I  never  saw  greater  gallantry 
than  was  manifested  by  his  smile  and  the  shrug  of  his  shoulders  as 
he  sauntered  to  work  with  two  pieces  of  dry  bread  in  his  pocket. 

The  libraries  were  shut.  Paris  was  no  place  for  me,  but  I  could  see 
something  of  Spain,  and  Portet  was  waiting  for  me  there.  After  the 
customary  passport  argument  and  some  surprise  at  the  cost  of  the 
sleeping-car  arrangements  I  left  for  the  South.  It  was  four  o'clock  in 

i53 


154  MARGARET   SANGER 

the  morning  as  the  express  pulled  into  Cerbere,  the  station  on  the 
border,  where  the  French  viewed  all  passengers  with  caution  and 
mistrust. 

"Cerbere!"  shouted  the  guard,  and,  "Passports!"  shouted  an  in- 
spector following  on  his  heels.  Mine  was  not  quite  right.  The 
train  moved  out  leaving  me  and  my  baggage  desolate  on  the  plat- 
form. In  the  course  of  several  interviews  with  various  officials  I  made 
out  that  my  passport  lacked  a  particular  signature,  and  Perpignan 
was  the  nearest  town  where  it  could  be  secured. 

I  paced  up  and  down  the  tiny  station  watching  for  the  train  back. 
As  usual,  peasants  were  asleep  in  the  waiting  room,  some  on  the 
floor,  others  sitting  on  bags  and  parcels.  We  were  so  close  under  the 
shadow  of  the  Pyrenees  that  they  almost  seemed  to  be  toppling 
over  us. 

From  the  train  window  I  looked  out  on  the  beauty  of  dawn  and 
the  rising  sun,  a  scene  of  such  magnificence  that  it  repaid  me  in 
pleasure  for  all  the  trouble.  To  one  side  was  the  far  stretch  of  the 
Mediterranean,  as  magic  a  blue  as  I  had  ever  imagined  it.  To  the 
other  were  the  majestic,  rugged  mountains  with  snow-capped  peaks 
and  bases  covered  with  pink,  flowering  apricots.  Little  villages  of 
white  houses  and  red-tile  roofs  nestled  in  the  valleys  and  serpentine 
roads  coiled  up  the  hillsides,  where  thousands  of  acres  of  grape  vines, 
trim  and  well  cared- for,  bespoke  the  wine  country. 

From  Perpignan  I  telegraphed  Portet,  "Live  or  die,  sink  or  swim, 
survive  or  perish,  I'll  be  in  Barcelona  tomorrow,"  and  boarded  the 
train  once  more  with  a  light  heart  and  my  papers,  three  of  them. 

Already  in  the  minute  second-class  compartment  were  a  large, 
middle-aged  woman  whose  sweet  face  was  framed  in  a  black  man- 
tilla, a  small  gray-haired  man,  evidently  her  husband,  and  a  younger 
one  of  about  twenty-five.  It  would  have  been  crowded  enough  as  it 
was,  but  they  had  brought  with  them  packages  and  bundles  that  filled 
the  space  to  the  roof.  However,  they  squeezed  out  enough  room  for 
me  to  curl  myself  up  and  go  to  sleep. 

I  awakened  with  a  start,  hearing  again  the  fateful  word,  "Pass- 
ports!" and  found  the  agent  examining  those  of  my  fellow  passen- 
gers. I  opened  the  bag  where  I  had  always  carried  my  credentials, 
but  they  were  not  there.  The  officer  stood  waiting.  "I  have  my  pa- 


THE   PEASANTS   ARE   KINGS  1 55 

pers  all  signed,"  I  said,  "but  I  cannot  find  them.  Go  on  to  the  others 
and  when  you  come  back  I'll  have  them." 

Since  he  could  not  understand  English  my  speech  had  little  effect ; 
he  continued  to  wait.  I  began  turning  things  out — letters,  books, 
pamphlets  of  all  kinds  and  descriptions,  groping  through  every  bag, 
in  and  out  of  every  package.  My  traveling  companions  gazed  on  the 
commotion  sympathetically  and  drew  their  legs  aside  so  I  could  look 
under  the  seat. 

At  this  point  another  uniform  approached  and  the  two  consulted 
together.  Then  one  of  them  blew  a  whistle  and  at  its  loud  and  shrill 
summons  five  men  came  running.  The  biggest  of  them  threw  wide  the 
compartment  door,  to  indicate  I  must  get  off.  They  were  jabbering 
at  me  in  French  and  Spanish ;  I  was  talking  English.  All  of  us  were 
going  as  fast  as  we  could.  First  I  jumped  up  and  expostulated,  then 
sat  down  and  waved  my  hands  saying,  "Go  away." 

Finally  there  appeared  a  young  Spanish  student  who  could  speak 
English.  He  conveyed  to  me  that  the  train  was  already  late  on  my 
account;  I  must  get  off  so  the  other  passengers  could  catch  the 
Barcelona  Express. 

I  would  not  be  bothered  any  more.  "So  do  I  want  to  catch  it,"  I 
exclaimed.  "Why  don't  they  move  on?  I  have  a  passport  and  I'll  find 
it  in  a  few  minutes.  I've  paid  for  my  ticket  to  Port  Bou  and  I'm  not 
going  back.  You  can  stop  the  train  here  for  a  week  if  you  want  to — 
I  shan't  budge !" 

The  gendarmes  were  standing  expectantly  on  the  platform  below. 
The  interpreter  shrugged  his  shoulders,  "She'll  do  as  she  says.  She's 
an  American  woman  and  she'll  never  come  down.  You  might  as  well 
move  on." 

Nevertheless,  the  big  fellow  with  the  long  black  cape  resolutely 
seized  one  bag  after  another  and  handed  them  out.  Underneath  the 
last  one  were  disclosed  the  missing  papers.  Straightway  everybody 
was  wreathed  in  smiles.  The  bags  were  restored  and  the  agents 
apologized,  thanked  me  profusely,  and  departed. 

The  passengers  shooks  hands  with  me  all  around. 

Just  before  we  reached  Port  Bou  one  of  them  peered  out  the  win- 
dow, rippled  off  some  words  to  the  others  in  Catalan.  The  whole 
compartment  was  as  though  electrified.  In  a  few  seconds  parcels  were 


I56  MARGARET    SANGER 

being  torn  apart  and  boxes  ripped  open.  The  Senora  removed  her 
mantilla  and  placed  a  smart  new  hat  on  her  head,  then  crowned  that 
with  another,  and  another,  and  another,  until  finally  she  was  wearing 
four.  Yards  of  beautiful  and  exquisite  lace  went  inside  her  bodice. 
She  took  off  her  outer  skirt  and  swathed  her  hips  in  lengths  of  cloth. 
The  men  stuffed  their  pockets  and  the  lining  of  their  coats.  At  last 
there  were  only  a  few  rolls  of  braid  left.  The  younger  one  lifted  his 
trousers,  wound  them  round  and  round  his  legs  and  tucked  the 
ends  in  his  garters.  Then  through  the  window  went  crumpled  pa- 
per, boxes,  string.  Finally,  as  the  train  was  slowing  up  they  put  on 
light-buff,  linen  dusters.  My  eyes  popped  out  of  my  head  to  see  these 
simple  people  suddenly  transformed  into  stylish  stouts  returning 
from  Paris. 

The  two  men  nonchalantly  smoked  cigars  as  though  nothing  out 
of  the  way  were  going  on  while  the  customs  officials  went  through 
their  bags.  Everybody  concerned  knew  they  were  merchants  smug- 
gling goods,  but  even  the  authorities  regarded  it  as  legitimate  for 
them  to  bring  in  as  much  as  they  could  carry  on  their  persons.  As 
they  left  the  shed  where  my  belongings  were  still  being  scrambled 
over,  they  glanced  commiseratingly  at  me  and  glowered  indignation 
at  the  officials  that  a  lady  should  be  so  served. 

I  had  expected  to  find  in  Barcelona  street-corner  Carmens  with 
hibiscus  blossoms  in  their  hair,  wandering  guitarists  and  singers.  But 
the  only  music  that  passed  my  window  oozed  out  mechanically  from 
two-wheeled,  highly-ornamented  hurdy-gurdies.  Nevertheless,  the 
city  was  full  of  color.  Strange  little  wagons  with  canvas  covers, 
looking  as  though  they  were  part  of  a  caravan,  rattled  over  the  cob- 
bles. There  was  something  gorgeously  elegant  about  the  members 
of  the  Guardia  Civil,  grandly  mounted  on  Arabian  horses,  their 
mustachios  fiercely  bristling,  their  uniforms  ablaze  with  scarlet  and 
yellow  topped  off  with  black  patent  leather  hats.  The  red  Phrygian 
caps  of  the  porters  seemed  almost  too  realistic  a  reminder  of  revolu- 
tion. The  workers  still  wore  their  crimson-fringed  sashes,  their  blue 
French  blouses,  and  white  rope-soled  shoes.  The  men,  as  a  rule,  were 
of  slight  frame,  but  conveyed  an  impression  of  strength  like  steel 
rods;  the  women,  invariably  black-clad  except  for  the  very  young, 
were  fat  and  waddling. 


THE   PEASANTS    ARE   KINGS  1 57 

Numberless  bells  were  constantly  ringing  in  numberless  churches. 
Everywhere,  like  crows,  were  priests  in  long  swinging  robes,  shovel 
hats,  and  dirty  bare  toes  sticking  through  their  sandals.  On  the  cor- 
ners of  the  central  streets  I  saw  them  occupying  the  booths  of  the 
professional  correspondents  who  for  ten  cents  read  and  answered 
letters  for  the  illiterate. 

Although  Barcelona,  capital  of  the  separatist  province  of  Cata- 
lonia, was  the  progressive,  industrial  center  of  Spain,  it  was  not 
darkened  by  a  melee  of  belching  chimneys.  The  hundreds  of  fac- 
tories were  kept  out  of  sight,  each  one  isolated  in  the  fields,  leaving 
the  city  free  from  traffic,  smoke,  and  the  whir  of  machinery.  The 
palms  in  the  squares  and  parks  were  lovely,  but  set  side  by  side  with 
the  new  was  the  startling  antiquity  of  the  old  town,  congested  and 
melancholy. 

Overlooking  the  sea  at  the  end  of  the  Rambla,  decorated  along 
its  length  with  flower  stalls  and  trees,  loud  with  birds,  stood  a  tall 
column  bearing  the  statue  of  Columbus.  Around  the  base  were  scenes 
portraying  various  incidents  of  the  voyage  to  America,  each  repre- 
sented by  small  images  cast  in  bronze,  all  beautiful  to  the  last  detail. 
But  the  effect  was  greatly  spoiled  because  nearly  every  one  remaining 
had  a  leg,  arm,  foot,  or  even  head  gone.  After  looking  at  this  for 
some  time  and  pondering  over  the  wherefore,  I  concluded  that  figures 
so  strongly  made  and  set  had  not  easily  been  removed,  and  decided 
it  must  have  something  to  do  with  the  Spanish-American  War. 
When  I  asked  my  Spanish  friends  whether  I  had  guessed  correctly, 
their  only  explanation  was  that  ruffians  had  doubtless  done  it  for 
sport. 

However,  after  I  had  left  the  country  I  received  verification  of  my 
supposition.  The  monument  had  been  stoned  in  '98,  but  no  Spaniard 
would  ever  have  admitted  this  fact  to  any  American;  it  might  hurt 
the  feelings  of  the  visitor  even  to  mention  the  unpleasantness. 

I  began  to  study  Spanish  with  a  teacher,  but  I  was  not  nearly  far 
enough  advanced  to  be  able  to  get  anywhere  in  my  investigations. 
Unfortunately  also,  although  men  thronged  the  cafes  in  droves,  they 
kept  their  wives  in  semi-Oriental  seclusion  and  even  mentally  im- 
posed their  deep-rooted  ideas  of  the  isolation  of  women  on  foreign- 
ers. I  could  not  violate  this  custom  by  going  about  alone,  because  I 


I58  MARGARET    SANGER 

was  a  guest.  As  a  result  Portet,  who  was  a  busy  man  himself,  pro- 
vided me  with  a  succession  of  male  escorts. 

Towards  the  end  of  a  certain  afternoon,  tired  and  footsore,  I  was 
sitting  with  one  of  these  accommodating  gentlemen  at  a  sidewalk 
table  sipping  an  aperitif — a  delicious  French  vermouth  supplemented 
by  olives  stuffed  with  anchovies.  Bootblacks  were  making  their  cus- 
tomary rounds  of  the  patrons,  and  the  men  were  having  their  shoes 
cleaned.  Since  I  had  been  walking  about  a  great  deal,  mine  were  ap- 
pearing rather  scuffed,  and  I  stretched  my  feet  out. 

My  companion  looked  at  me  appealingly.  "I  beg  of  you,  Senora, 
not  here." 

"Why  not?" 

But  the  boy  had  already  brought  his  little  shoe  rest,  begun  spit- 
ting on  my  oxford  and  rubbing  with  energy  and  enthusiasm.  Em- 
barrassed, my  escort  rose  and  moved  away,  but,  interested  in  the  boy's 
novel  methods,  I  kept  my  eyes  on  my  shoes  and  was  unaware  of  any- 
thing out  of  the  ordinary. 

As  soon  as  he  had  finished  I  glanced  up.  There  must  have  been 
twenty-five  men  gathered  in  front  of  the  cafe,  all  looking  fixedly  and 
intently  at  this  unusual  spectacle.  When  I  opened  my  purse  to  pay 
the  boy,  he  doffed  his  cap  with  the  most  gracious  gesture.  "Senora, 
this  is  my  pleasure." 

The  crowd  outside  applauded  loudly  and  I  felt  my  face  growing 
hot.  Not  until  they  had  drifted  off  did  my  protector  return,  wan  and 
pale  and  extremely  agitated.  "You  see  what  you've  done,  you  see  ?  It 
will  be  the  joke  of  Spain!  You  are  the  friend  of  Professor  Portet! 
It  is  a  reflection  on  him  and  on  his  family!  You  cannot  do  these 
things !" 

I  realized  then  that  I  had  to  be  more  circumspect. 

Portet,  who  after  all  was  Ferrer's  successor,  was  watched  wher- 
ever he  went  by  the  secret  service,  and  soon  pointed  out  that  I  too 
had  a  shadow — the  man  who  sat  constantly  at  the  little,  round, 
marble-topped  table  across  from  my  hotel.  He  said  I  should  always 
have  this  individual  or  one  of  his  mates  with  me.  They  were  on  eight- 
hour  duty,  and  if  I  were  to  go  in  for  any  night  life  I  would  have  three 
separate  ones  over  the  twenty-four  hours. 

These  government  agents  were  to  give  a  regular  report  of  whom 


THE   PEASANTS   ARE   KINGS  1 59 

I  was  with  and  where  I  went,  and,  in  a  sense,  they  also  looked  after  me, 
although  Portet  was  never  without  a  revolver  in  his  pocket.  In  Spain 
a  breath  of  dampness,  and  pop — open  went  the  umbrellas  all  over  the 
place.  Once  on  the  way  to  a  benefit  for  the  Belgians  Portet  and  I 
were  waiting  for  the  tram  when  a  spatter  of  rain  came  up.  His  spy 
rushed  to  hold  an  umbrella  over  him  while  mine  ran  after  my  hat 
which  the  wind  had  saucily  blown  off  my  head.  Or,  if  I  were  taking 
a  train  alone,  my  daytime  attendant,  having  already  been  in  con- 
ference with  the  hotel  proprietor,  would  appear  at  the  ticket  office 
and  explain  to  the  clerk  where  I  wanted  to  go.  Had  he  spoken  Eng- 
lish I  would  have  doubtless  enjoyed  his  conversation,  but  Portet 
warned  me  it  was  beneath  my  dignity  even  to  nod  good  morning  to 
such  a  creature. 

The  frequent  friendly  attentions  of  our  spies  could  not  draw  a 
word  of  approval  from  Portet,  though  on  one  occasion  they  performed 
a  real  service.  Stopping  en  route  at  the  American  Express  Company  to 
get  some  money,  we  set  out  to  see  a  part  of  the  old  city  new  to  me. 
Only  a  few  blocks  from  the  banks  and  modern  shops  were  center 
pumps  from  which  women  were  carrying  the  water  to  their  homes 
in  tall  earthen  jugs,  in  just  the  same  primitive  manner  as  centuries 
ago.  The  houses  in  the  red-light  district  were  approached  by  outside 
stairways  along  which  were  niches  enclosing  receptacles  for  holy 
water,  and  into  these  the  patrons  dipped  their  fingers  religiously, 
crossed  themselves,  and  entered. 

While  we  were  walking  through  one  of  the  narrow  streets,  high- 
walled  on  either  side,  suddenly  and  without  reason  I  felt  alarmed, 
and  at  the  same  moment  Portet  put  his  hand  in  his  pocket.  I  glanced 
behind  to  find  our  two  familiar  guarding  shadows  gone;  I  sensed 
danger  ahead,  but  I,  too,  tried  to  act  as  though  everything  were  all 
right,  as  though  there  were  nothing  to  worry  about.  We  strolled  in 
the  same  leisurely  way  to  the  corner.  There  in  a  flash  down  another 
street  we  caught  a  quick  glimpse  of  struggling  figures  in  the  distance. 
In  a  moment  they  disappeared. 

We  proceeded  to  our  destination — a  little  cafe  fronting  the  Medi- 
terranean. As  we  sat  admiring  it,  I  was  startled  by  the  sight  of  our 
two  spies  approaching,  one  of  them  holding  a  long,  jagged-edged 
knife.  I  could  not  understand  his  excited  words,  but  his  pantomime 


l60  MARGARET    SANGER 

was  so  graphically  descriptive  of  a  life-and-death  struggle  that  my 
flesh  began  to  creep  and  shivers  ran  up  and  down  my  backbone.  He 
paused,  bowed,  and  held  out  the  knife,  obviously  offering  it  to  me. 

Portet,  looking  very  incensed,  pulled  out  his  revolver,  showed  it 
to  the  man,  and  ordered  him  off.  When  both  had  retired,  abashed, 
Portet  translated  briefly,  "He  says  he  has  saved  your  life — that  rob- 
bers saw  you  get  money  at  the  American  Express  this  morning,  and 
that  he  knew  they  were  going  to  attack  you.  He  followed  and  grabbed 
the  knife  away  from  them.  I  told  him  this  was  unnecessary.  The 
thieves  would  have  got  as  good  as  they  gave !  I  can  take  care  of  you." 

I  thought  I  ought  at  least  to  have  given  the  man  a  reward,  but  not 
Portet,  the  revolutionary,  who  was  furious  at  the  presumption.  He 
was  always  angry  at  them.  When  he  came  to  lunch  with  me  Palm 
Sunday,  the  hotel  proprietor  leaned  over  the  table  confidentially  and 
said,  "The  government  agent  wishes  to  speak  to  you." 

Portet  shouted,  "If  he  comes  near,  I'll  shoot  him!  The  hound,  the 
worm,  the  dog !  How  dare  he  ?" 

"Can't  we  find  out  what  he  wants?"  I  suggested. 

The  proprietor  returned,  "Nothing,  Sefior,  except  to  ask  whether 
you  and  the  Senora  are  attending  the  bullfight  this  afternoon.  His 
time  is  up  at  four  o'clock,  but  if  you  are  going  to  the  plaza  de  toros, 
he  will  be  glad  to  stay  on  duty  another  eight  hours." 

We  went;  he  came  right  along  and  saw  the  spectacle  at  govern- 
ment expense. 

The  cement-like  benches  of  the  large  amphitheater  were  crowded 
to  full  capacity.  The  people  were  gesticulating,  chattering  volubly  as 
though  awaiting  something  unusual  or  something  good  eagerly  antici- 
pated. Overhead  the  monotonous,  gray  sky  seemed  like  a  huge  tent, 
it  was  so  regular  and  colorless,  but  every  little  while  a  patch  of  blue 
appeared.  The  disposition  of  the  onlookers  changed  with  the  same  un- 
expectedness from  gladness  and  joy  almost  instantaneously  into  im- 
patience or  wrath ;  at  one  moment  they  clapped  and  praised  the  mata- 
dor, at  the  next  they  insulted  and  vilified  him. 

Most  of  my  Spanish  friends  hoped  I  would  like  a  bullfight,  al- 
though Portet,  who  thought  it  barbaric,  told  me  it  would  probably 
shock  me ;  every  foreigner  who  saw  one  simply  shut  his  eyes  in  hor- 
ror when  some  poor  old  skeleton  horse  was  so  gored  that  its  intes- 


THE   PEASANTS   ARE   KINGS  l6l 

tines  fell  out  and  then  were  pushed  back  for  its  re-entry  into  the 
arena.  If  I  were  going  to  be  conspicuous  by  showing  my  feelings, 
the  populace  might  turn  upon  me,  and,  jokingly,  he  suggested  fol- 
lowing the  example  of  Alfonso  XIII,  who  had  given  his  English 
bride  a  pair  of  opera  glasses  with  perfectly  black  lenses  because  she 
was  so  open  and  frank  at  displaying  her  emotions.  She  had  stood 
and  stared  blankly  at  them  all  the  time,  and  thus  got  through  her 
first  bullfight. 

I  promised  to  be  careful,  and  watched  with  the  naked  eye. 

The  bull  came  out  snorting  with  passion  and  vigor,  glaring  around 
the  arena  with  a  great  noble  sweep  of  his  head.  Suddenly  he  saw  a 
color  he  did  not  like,  something  inimical.  He  lunged  towards  it,  and 
then  a  medieval-looking  figure  danced  before  him  with  a  cape  to 
confuse  him.  He  forgot  his  original  enemy  and  rushed  at  the  red 
thing.  Another  gyrating  figure  distracted  his  attention  and  angered 
him  to  wheel  towards  the  new  adversary,  make  another  plunge,  and 
again  be  met  by  a  flash  of  color. 

Over  and  over  and  over  again  this  happened.  The  poor  bull's  vi- 
tality was  finally  worn  down,  not  from  direct  combat,  but  because  of 
the  many  bewildering  forces  that  were  there  to  destroy  him — the 
fluttering  capes,  the  kaleidoscopic  shapes,  the  swift-thrown  banderil- 
las,  and  the  gleaming  lances  of  the  picadors.  Then,  when  he  was 
bleeding  and  utterly  spent,  the  hero  stepped  out  with  a  sword  to  kill 
him.  He  was  dragged  out,  sombreros  whirled  into  the  arena,  shrieks 
and  shouts  arose,  the  band  played,  a  great  victory  had  been  achieved. 

Within  no  time,  even  before  another  bull  appeared,  vendors  came 
along  with  baskets  of  hot  sandwiches  made  from  the  barbecued  meat 
of  the  one  just  killed. 

Not  a  single  word  would  Portet  let  me  say  until  we  were  entirely 
out  of  hearing;  you  could  talk  freely  in  Spain  against  the  Church  or 
the  priests,  but  this  sacred  institution  must  not  be  criticized.  Passing 
through  my  mind  was  the  thought  that  a  bullfight  was  symbolic  of 
the  struggle  of  the  working  classes.  Strikes,  picketing,  jails  ex- 
hausted their  energy  until  they  too  charged  blindly  this  way  and  that, 
always  missing  the  main  issue. 

Many  of  my  holidays  were  spent  more  happily  than  this.  I  never 
tired  of  the  wooded  mountains  which  sheltered  Barcelona,  most  of 


1 62  MARGARET    SANGER 

them  having  some  religious  significance.  Portet  and  I  went  up  the 
funicular  to  the  top  of  Tibidabo,  the  exceeding  high  place  where  the 
devil  tempted  Jesus,  showing  him  in  a  moment  of  time  the  world 
spread  out  before  him. 

Another  glorious  spring  day  we  twisted  up  the  thirty  miles  of 
road  to  Montserrat,  the  mountain  riven  in  two  at  the  Crucifixion.  It 
was  the  quaintest  sight  to  one  coming  from  a  land  of  subways  and 
elevators  to  watch  the  donkeys  laden  with  packs  on  their  backs  of 
vegetables,  eggs,  and  butter,  and  to  see  their  owners  straggling  be- 
side up  and  down  the  hills,  masters  of  at  least  themselves  if  not  of 
their  donkeys.  The  breeze  blew  more  chill  as  we  ascended  the  final 
slope  to  the  huge  monastery  at  the  top.  Afterwards  night  fell,  and 
the  moon  shone  over  the  huge  boulders  of  towering  rocks,  and  the 
whispering  wind  swung  from  mass  to  mass  and  echoed  back  again 
whence  it  came.  It  was  an  evening  of  enchantment. 

On  making  other  sorties  into  the  country  I  perceived  an  innate  in- 
telligence in  the  most  ignorant  peasant.  The  average  one  could  not 
tell  the  names  of  the  simplest  plants  or  flowers,  but  one  look  from 
the  eye,  one  tone  of  the  voice,  was  comprehended  in  a  flash.  Even  the 
gypsy  children  in  the  outskirts  of  Barcelona,  with  their  little  dirty 
feet  and  tattered  clothing,  who  danced  weird  dances  and  flattered 
strangers  for  pennies,  had  a  natural  brightness  beyond  belief. 

But  this  intelligence  was  not  being  directed,  and  one  reason  was 
inherent  in  the  rebellious  nature  of  the  Catalan ;  he  would  have  pre- 
ferred no  system  of  government  at  all  if  that  had  been  possible,  for 
he  was  restless  and  tumultuous  under  restraint. 

When  I  saw  children  leading  the  blind  about  the  streets  day  after 
day,  I  asked,  "Don't  they  have  to  be  in  school  ?  Isn't  education  made 
compulsory  by  the  Government?" 

I  was  laughed  at.  "If  the  Government  sent  our  children  to  school, 
we  would  know  it  was  the  wrong  sort  of  school." 

Parents  who  could  afford  it,  however,  were  willing  enough  to 
have  them  go  to  Ferrer's  schools.  Two  thirds  of  the  Spanish  people 
had  not  been  able  to  read  or  write  before  his  time.  The  teacher,  who 
worked  constantly  all  the  year  round,  averaged  about  sixteen  dollars 
a  month.  "He  is  hungrier  than  a  schoolmaster"  was  a  household 
axiom. 


THE  PEASANTS  ARE  KINGS  163 

Since  Ferrer's  first  school  had  opened  fourteen  years  previously, 
some  forty-six  had  begun  to  operate,  and,  in  addition,  most  towns 
of  any  size  had  at  least  one  rationalist  school  which  was  maintained 
by  the  workers  and  also  used  Ferrer's  texts.  The  groundwork  was 
then  being  laid  for  the  children  of  yesterday  to  become  the  leaders 
in  today's  fight.  The  pupils  I  saw  at  near-by  Sabadella,  at  Granada, 
and  at  Seville,  were  being  taught  the  processes  of  life  from  the  cell 
up,  and  their  instructors  were  really  trying  to  give  them  a  scientific 
instead  of  a  theological  attitude. 

Because  of  the  long  mental  and  physical  isolation  imposed  upon 
them  by  the  Church,  which  controlled  all  education,  five  thousand 
towns  and  villages  could  be  reached  only  by  trails  and  tracks.  The 
Church  had  objected  to  having  roads  built  because,  once  transportation 
were  made  more  accessible,  women  could  more  easily  leave  their 
homes  in  the  country  and  go  to  the  city  where  evil  awaited  them — 
their  morals  were  being  safeguarded  by  cowpaths. 

Most  of  Spain  was  a  gaunt,  denuded,  tragic  country  with  vast, 
desolate  steppes  and  red,  impoverished  soil  which  gave  the  feeling  it 
had  been  soaked  in  human  blood  for  centuries.  Certainly  the  spill- 
ing of  blood  had  been  a  matter  of  indifference  in  Spanish  history.  In 
a  sense  the  whole  people  were  lawless,  hostile  to  rulers.  Every  child 
knew  the  evils  of  El  Caciquismo.  Some  Spaniard  has  said,  "Democ- 
racy, Republicanism,  or  Socialism  have  in  reality  little  to  do  in  our 
country,  for  we  do  not  willingly  accept  either  king,  president,  priest, 
or  prophet." 

The  worker  in  Catalonia  had  small  faith  in  government,  no  matter 
what  the  brand,  and  kept  straight  to  the  one  issue — revolution 
through  economic  action,  chiefly  the  general  strike.  He  did  not  look 
upon  the  Government  as  a  vague,  mysterious  something  for  the  deeds 
or  blunders  of  which  no  one  could  be  blamed;  he  demanded  that 
those  in  authority  should  give  accounting  for  the  results  of  their 
authority.  He  never  forgot  a  wrong,  and  usually  those  responsible 
paid  the  bill.  I  sometimes  thought  his  "attempts"  were  carried  out 
more  from  a  spirit  of  revenge  and  individual  hatred  than  as  a  social 
protest. 

At  the  head  of  the  Rambla  was  a  great  square,  the  Plaza  de  la 
Constitucion,  and  there  each  day  from  five  to  six  the  populace  took 


164  MARGARET   SANGER 

its  airing.  Thousands  of  feet  had  so  worn  the  pavement  that  it  needed 
replacement.  One  noon  the  square  was  torn  up.  Nobody  could  walk 
there  for  twenty-four  hours,  the  workmen  were  busy,  ropes  were 
placed  across  both  ends  of  the  promenade,  and  a  huge  sign  was 
erected,  "No  trespassing  allowed.  By  Order  of  the  Government." 

Loiterers  gathered  to  look  at  the  proclamation.  They  began  talk- 
ing, their  gestures  growing  more  and  more  vehement,  until  finally 
they  pulled  down  the  ropes  and  deliberately  trod  on  the  fresh  con- 
crete. They  were  not  going  to  be  forbidden  by  the  Government !  The 
entire  job  had  to  be  done  over  again,  and  I  noticed  the  next  night 
six  mounted  police  were  guarding  all  four  sides.  But  nobody  seemed 
to  give  either  incident  the  slightest  attention. 

Catalans  were  a  race  of  individualists,  each  a  law  unto  himself. 
Their  most  marked  characteristics  were  independence  and  personal 
dignity.  Even  Pepet,  the  waiter  at  my  hotel,  knew  how  to  use  his 
freedom.  Sometimes  he  calmly  left  the  dining  room  and  went  down 
the  street  for  a  shave  while  we  were  having  our  soup.  He  eventually 
returned  for  the  following  course,  happy  and  clean,  his  absence  un- 
reproved. 

Whenever  the  conversation  of  the  guests  interested  him,  Pepet  en- 
tered in  quite  as  naturally  as  though  he  were  sitting  and  being  served 
instead  of  serving.  In  any  other  country  this  would  have  been  resented 
as  insolence,  but  here  every  courtesy  and  respect  was  shown  to  him 
just  as  he  showed  it  to  others.  If  you  said  you  were  going  to  go  by  a 
certain  tram  to  a  certain  place  to  be  there  at  three  in  the  afternoon, 
he  interrupted,  "Pardon  me,  Senora,  you  do  not  need  to  be  there  un- 
til four-thirty,  and  it  is  much  better  to  go  by  this  other  route." 

Like  the  rest  I  said,  "Right,  Pepet,  we  shall  take  your  advice." 

With  the  expulsion  of  the  Jews  from  Spain  vanished  the  driving 
force  for  commercial  initiative,  a  quality,  fortunately  or  unfortu- 
nately, greatly  lacking  in  the  country.  Perez  Galdos  said : 

The  capital  defect  of  the  Spaniards  of  your  time  is  that  you  live 
exclusively  the  life  of  words,  and  the  language  is  so  beautiful  that 
the  delight  in  the  sweet  sound  of  it  woos  you  to  sleep.  You  speak  too 
much.  You  lavish  without  stint  a  wealth  of  phrases  to  conceal  the 
poverty  of  your  actions. 


THE   PEASANTS   ARE   KINGS  1 65 

I  did  not  believe  this  entirely  true,  but  without  doubt  the  Spanish 
had  a  maddening  habit  of  procrastination.  It  was  "Si,  Si,  Sefiora, 
assuredly,  certainly,"  all  gracious  promising — and  then  nothing  hap- 
pening. To  an  American  this  was  especially  aggravating,  because  he 
was  always  in  a  constant  hurry;  he  expected  to  see  and  know  the 
whole  of  Spain  in  a  month.  But  the  Spaniard  was  not  to  be  rushed. 
When  asked  what  time  it  was,  he  might  reply,  "Perhaps  four  hours 
more  of  the  sun." 

This  defiance  of  clocks  and  the  absence  of  strain  and  bustle  pleased 
me  personally.  A  story  was  told  of  a  Spaniard  going  to  seek  his  for- 
tune in  South  America.  After  finding  a  position  to  his  satisfaction  he 
worked  three  hours  and  then  suddenly  asked  for  his  pay.  When  his 
employer  requested  the  cause  of  his  abrupt  leave-taking,  he  ex- 
claimed angrily,  "Do  you  think  I'm  going  to  spend  all  my  life  work- 
ing for  you  ?" 

Don  Quixote  truly  represented  the  Spanish  temperament.  The 
strong  enthusiasm  which  was  shown  for  a  project  and  the  still 
stronger  imagination  which  not  only  saw  the  matter  begun  but  also 
finished,  was  Spanish  to  the  last  degree.  The  knight  of  La  Mancha 
thought  nothing  of  invading  cities  and  fighting  giants,  but  it  ended 
in  thinking  about  it.  "I  consider  all  that  already  done." 

Spanish  character,  so  paradoxical,  so  attractive,  and  often  so  diffi- 
cult to  understand,  fascinated  me.  I  could  exhaust  myself  in  ad- 
jectives— fickle,  impetuous,  rich-souled,  ascetic,  passionate,  realistic, 
individualistic.  Courtesy  and  ceremony  were  second  nature  to  the 
Catalans  of  Barcelona,  supposed  to  be  the  most  dangerous  and  law- 
less city  in  Europe,  where  thousands  of  anarchists  gathered  and 
plotted  and  where  bombs  were  thrown  wrapped  up  in  flowers. 

I  remember  how  on  the  suburban  trams  going  high  into  the  moun- 
tains, sellers  of  hot  and  cold  omelets  ran  up  and  down  the  station 
platforms.  Anybody  who  bought  one,  before  eating  it  himself,  offered 
it  to  all  the  passengers  in  the  car,  even  though  they  might  be  carrying 
their  own  lunches. 

To  accept,  however,  was  a  shocking  breach  of  good  form.  The 
offerer  protested  that  you  must  take  it,  and  you  had  to  think  fast  for 
a  plausible  excuse.  "My  friends  are  waiting  for  me  to  dine  with 


1 66  MARGARET    SANGER 

them,"  or  "I've  just  had  something  at  the  last  station."  You  must 
never,  never,  never  accept. 

Havelock  used  to  tell  of  a  grave  error  he  had  once  made  when 
traveling  in  Spain.  When  he  had  admired  a  piece  of  jewelry,  the 
lady  to  whom  it  belonged  had  removed  it  promptly  and  thrust  it  upon 
him,  saying,  "I  am  honored  to  give  it  to  you."  She  had  been  so  in- 
sistent that,  though  thoroughly  uncomfortable,  he  had  taken  it  —  the 
very  worst  thing  he  could  have  done.  Soon  it  disappeared  from  his 
effects,  but  what  was  his  surprise  on  his  next  encounter  with  the 
lady  to  find  her  wearing  it  again  with  no  sign  of  discomposure.  Her 
servants  had  been  so  indignant  that  one  of  them  had  immediately 
stolen  it  back. 

Spanish  men  were  not  only  courteous  to  women  but  also  to  each 
other,  having  no  hesitancy  at  showing  their  regard  and  affection. 
Even  the  beggars  addressed  each  other  in  the  most  high-flown 
phrases,  "Your  Highness,"  or  "Your  Grace."  One  might  ask, 
"Where  is  Your  Excellency  to  sleep  tonight?" 

"Under  the  bridge,  My  Lord." 

They  lacked  that  poverty-in-the-soul  look  that  existed  in  the  same 
class  in  other  countries.  Assuming  the  condition  of  one  tattered  and 
ragged  specimen  to  be  temporary,  I  questioned  him,  "What  do  you 
do  ordinarily?" 

"I  saunter,  I  idle,  I  loaf." 

"But  what  work  do  you  do  ?" 

He  drew  himself  up  with  the  utmost  hauteur,  and  said  proudly, 
"I  do  not  work.  I  am  a  beggar." 

Doing  business  with  the  Spaniards  required  a  knowledge  of  finesse 
quite  foreign  to  the  average  American.  I,  for  example,  saw  a  basket 
in  a  shop  window  which  I  felt  I  really  must  have.  My  escort  and  I 
went  into  the  store.  Since  the  proprietor  did  not  speak  English,  all  I 
could  do  was  gaze  longingly,  take  it  in  my  hand,  and  ask  my  com- 
panion, "How  much  do  you  suppose  this  is?"  He  made  no  answer, 
but  pointed  to  something  else  on  the  wall,  and  we  left  without  learn- 
ing the  price.  I  thought  he  was  a  terribly  stupid  person. 

The  next  day  I  passed  the  same  place  with  Portet,  and  I  begged, 
"Oh,  do  come  in  and  ask  how  much  that  basket  is.  I  want  to  buy  it." 


THE   PEASANTS   ARE   KINGS  1 67 

He  smiled  at  me  indulgently.  "You  know  in  our  country  we  can- 
not just  go  into  places  and  find  out  prices.  This  man  is  a  craftsman. 
We  will  talk  to  him." 

The  proprietor  and  his  wife  shook  hands  with  us  and  brought  the 
best  wine  from  the  cellar.  Then  the  former  said,  "The  Sefiora  was 
here  yesterday.  Tell  us  about  her." 

"She  comes  from  North  America,"  answered  Portet. 

"Tell  us  about  North  America." 

After  forty  minutes  of  this,  during  which  I  kept  one  eye  on  the 
wicker  container  but  was  unable  to  divert  the  conversation  to  it, 
we  said,  "Hasta  la  vista,"  and  bowed  our  way  out. 

A  week  later  Portet  and  I,  following  the  lodestone  of  my  particu- 
lar basket,  sought  the  shop  once  more.  Relations  had  now  been  estab- 
lished, and  we  were  entitled  to  ask  about  it.  But  we  still  could  not 
demand  outright,  "How  much  does  it  cost?"  We  must  say,  "This 
basket  must  be  worth  so  and  so,"  making  the  figure  higher  than  it 
should  be. 

"Oh,  no,  no,  no,  no!"  the  proprietor  protested.  "It  is  not  worth 
that.  My  humble  hands  fashioned  it.  It  is  hardly  worth  anything." 

He  endeavored  to  make  me  accept  it  for  nothing.  I  had  to  refuse 
and  once  more  try  to  make  him  take  more  than  its  value.  Never  was 
there  such  a  juggling  before  we  finally  arrived  at  the  exact  amount 
of  pesetas. 

On  my  departure  from  the  country  I  had  to  break  through  a  simi- 
lar punctilio.  I  spent  about  seven  weeks  in  Barcelona  and  was  never 
presented  with  a  hotel  bill — none  for  lodging,  for  laundry,  for  meals, 
or  for  extras  such  as  coffee.  The  day  was  coming  when  I  must  go 
back  to  France,  and  I  did  not  want  too  much  Spanish  money  with 
me — just  enough  to  take  me  to  the  border.  From  there  I  had  already 
purchased  my  tickets  for  England. 

Each  time  I  mentioned  cuenta  to  the  proprietor,  bowing  and  turn- 
ing up  his  palms  he  answered,  "Si,  Si,  Sefiora,"  until  finally,  on  my 
last  morning,  I  marched  resolutely  up  to  the  desk  and  said,  "I  shall 
miss  my  train  if  I  have  to  go  to  the  American  Express  to  get  more 
money.  You  really  must  tell  me  how  much  I  owe." 

He  went  upstairs,  I  waited.  Finally  he  descended,  hjs  hair  stand- 


1 68  MARGARET   SANGER 

ing  on  end.  He  threw  the  reckoning  down  on  the  table  with  a  most 
vindictive  look.  I  glanced  at  it.  The  total  was  very  low;  it  could 
barely  have  covered  the  cost  of  the  food. 

"I  have  been  humiliated!"  he  exclaimed  dramatically. 

"Whatever  is  the  matter?"  I  questioned. 

"We  are  living  in  the  most  hellish  country  on  earth !" 

"Why,  what's  happened?" 

"A  lady  comes  all  the  way  from  North  America.  She  visits  us, 
she  stays  here,  we  like  her,  and  I  must  present  her  with  this  sordid 
bill!" 

Some  day  when  the  fighting  is  over  I  shall  return  again  to  Spain. 


Chapter  Fourteen 

O,  TO  BE  IN  ENGLAND 


WHEN  I  reached  London  it  was  spring,  and  beautiful  as  only 
spring  in  England  can  be.  I  longed  to  get  out  into  the  coun- 
try and,  through  the  kindness  of  Dr.  Alice  Vickery,  was  soon  lodged 
in  a  private  home  in  Hampstead  Gardens  next  door  to  her  quaint, 
ivy-covered,  red-brick  house.  In  the  large  garden  in  back  we  often 
had  tea  under  the  blossoming  apple  trees.  There,  dressed  in  gray  or 
purple,  with  white  collar  and  a  wisp  of  lace  not  quite  a  bonnet  on 
her  head,  she  entertained  the  young  and  modern  women  of  England 
who  were  working  for  reforms  of  no  matter  what  kind.  Still,  at 
the  age  of  eighty,  she  was  alert  upon  all  questions  of  the  day,  busily 
engaged  in  writing  leaflets  or  articles  pointing  out  the  weak  spots 
in  social  programs. 

Dr.  Vickery  was  so  full  of  the  living  side  of  Neo-Malthusianism 
that  I  could  ill  afford  to  forego  one  possible  hour  with  her.  Often 
when  we  found  ourselves  alone  in  her  drawing  room  I  sat  at  her 
feet  and  heard  the  story  of  the  pioneer  Malthusians,  what  they  had 
had  to  undergo,  and  what  they  had  accomplished.  For  my  benefit  she 
brought  out  of  her  attic  a  veritable  treasure  of  the  early  days — old 
circulars,  pamphlets,  and  letters  now,  I  am  afraid,  destroyed. 

Almost  every  afternoon,  taking  her  walking  stick  and  with  Dr. 
Binnie  Dunlop  for  a  companion,  Dr.  Vickery  boarded  the  tram  to 
attend  some  gathering.  She  had  been  one  of  the  first  to  welcome  the 
militant  suffragettes,  and  she  never  missed  a  suffrage  meeting,  nor, 
for  that  matter,  any  other  significant  one  on  infant  or  maternal  wel- 

169 


170  MARGARET   SANGER 

fare,  eugenics,  or  public  health.  She  always  went  with  the  definite 
purpose  of  getting  the  audience  down  to  fundamentals.  In  time  she 
became  a  familiar  figure.  As  soon  as  she  entered  a  hall  you  could 
feel  those  present  aligning  themselves  against  her.  They  knew  she 
was  going  to  bring  up  a  controversial  subject  that  no  one  wanted  dis- 
cussed, such  as  birth  control.  It  was  like  casting  a  boulder  into  a  nice 
quiet  lake,  but,  with  an  unruffled  exterior  and  grim  determination, 
she  invariably  rose  just  the  same,  asked  the  chairman  to  recognize 
her,  and  said  her  say  on  the  Feminist  side  of  the  question.  From  the 
lips  of  this  Victorian  old  lady  it  sounded  strange  to  hear  frank  re- 
marks about  the  importance  of  limiting  offspring.  Dr.  Dunlop,  with 
Scotch  determination,  was  also  bent  on  setting  people  straight;  he 
followed  her  and  expounded  the  medical  aspects  of  population. 

In  June  Dr.  Vickery  asked  me  to  tell  my  story  to  a  group  of  her 
friends.  Among  them  was  Edith  How-Martyn,  who  had  recently 
graduated  from  the  London  School  of  Economics.  But  already  the 
zealous  ardor  of  this  small  and  slight  person  had  landed  her  in  jail 
for  suffrage.  She  had  now  split  from  Mrs.  Pankhurst,  unable  to 
subscribe  to  the  militant  policy. 

The  American  woman  is  apt  to  say,  "Anything  I  can  do  for  you, 
let  me  know,"  and  then  go  away,  her  conscience  relieved.  The  Eng- 
lishwoman states  definitely  that  she  can  get  up  a  meeting,  bring  you 
in  touch  with  so  and  so,  give  you  money,  or  get  money  for  you. 
Edith  How-Martyn  in  her  quiet  manner  said  to  me,  "I  think  what 
you  have  told  us  today  should  have  a  larger  audience.  Will  you  give 
a  lecture  if  we  arrange  it  for  you?  We'll  do  the  donkey  work;  all 
you  have  to  do  is  speak." 

In  a  few  days  the  time  and  place  were  set.  I  was  to  appear  in 
Fabian  Hall  the  following  month  under  my  own  name. 

The  chairs  in  the  auditorium  were  wooden  and  the  interior  was 
unheated — not  like  an  American  hall.  The  audience  was  quite  differ- 
ent from  the  little  Socialist  gatherings  of  working  women  I  had  ad- 
dressed at  home.  The  atrocious  and  hideous  English  hats  gave  it  an 
intellectual  and  highly  respectable  air.  These  representatives  of  nearly 
every  social  and  civic  organization  in  London,  had  the  rationalist  at- 
titude and  preferred  to  listen  to  principles  and  theories.  I  told  them 
what  I  had  been  trying  to  do  through  the  Woman  Rebel  and  ex- 


O,    TO    BE   IN    ENGLAND  171 

plained  my  private  and  personal  conception  of  what  Feminism  should 
mean;  that  is,  women  should  first  free  themselves  from  biological 
slavery,  which  could  best  be  accomplished  through  birth  control. 
This  was,  generally  speaking,  the  introduction  of  the  term  into 
England. 

Many  came  up  and  talked  to  me  afterwards,  among  them  Marie 
Stopes,  a  paleontologist  who  had  made  a  reputation  with  work  on 
coal.  Would  I  dome  to  her  home  and  discuss  the  book  she  was  writ- 
ing? 

Over  the  teacups  I  found  her  to  have  an  open,  frank  manner  that 
quite  won  me.  She  took  me  into  her  confidence  at  once,  stating  her 
marriage  had  been  unconsummated,  and  for  that  reason  she  was  se- 
curing an  annulment.  Her  book,  Married  Love,  was  based  largely 
on  her  own  experiences  and  the  unhappiness  that  came  to  people 
from  ignorance  and  lack  of  understanding  in  wedlock,  and  she 
hoped  it  would  help  others.  She  was  extremely  interested  in  the 
correlation  of  marital  success  to  tiirth  control  knowledge,  although 
she  admitted  she  knew  nothing  about  the  latter.  Could  I  tell  her 
exactly  what  methods  were  used  and  how?  In  spite  of  my  belief 
that  the  Netherlands  clinics  could  be  improved  upon,  I  was  fired  with 
fervor  for  the  idea  as  such,  and  described  them  as  I  had  seen  them. 

Later  when  I  came  back  to  the  United  States,  I  brought  with  me 
the  manuscript  of  Married  Love,  and  tried  every  established  pub- 
lisher in  New  York,  receiving  a  rejection  from  each.  Finally  I  in- 
duced Dr.  William  J.  Robinson  to  publish  it  under  the  auspices  of 
his  Critic  and  Guide,  a  monthly  magazine  which  took  up  many  sub- 
jects the  Journal  of  the  American  Medical  Association  would  not 
touch.  Unfortunately  even  here  it  had  to  be  expurgated.  When  I 
cabled  Dr.  Stopes  I  had  a  publisher  in  New  York,  her  new  husband, 
H.  V.  Roe,  financed  an  unabridged  English  edition  which  appeared 
simultaneously. 

No  one  can  underestimate  the  work  Marie  Stopes  has  done. 
Though  her  other  books,  Radiant  Motherhood  and  Wise  Parent- 
hood, were  limited  in  value  because  they  were  based  on  limited  per- 
sonal experience,  she  has  handled  sex  knowledge  with  delicacy  and 
wisdom,  placing  it  in  a  modern,  practical  category.  She  started  the 
first  birth  control  clinic  in  England,  but  she  was  not  a  pioneer  in  the 


172  MARGARET    SANGER 

movement.  Annie  Besant,  Dr.  Vickery,  the  Drysdales,  and  many 
others  had  plowed  the  ground  and  sown  the  seed.  It  needed  only 
a  new  voice,  articulate  and  clear  as  hers,  to  push  her  into  the  front 
ranks  of  the  movement,  where  she  must  have  been  much  surprised^ 
to  find  herself. 

Many  people  went  out  of  their  way  to  be  kind, to  me  in  those  days, 
I  was  often  asked  to  the  home  of  E.  P.  C.  Haynes,  solicitor,  writer 
on  freedom  of  the  press,  and  a  fine  adviser.  Around  his  table,  one  of 
the  grandest  set  anywhere  in  England,  could  usually  be  found  a  large 
group  of  distinguished  people.  Among  them  was  the  American  Civil 
War  veteran,  Major  G.  P.  Putnam,  a  dapper,  lively,  alert  little  pub- 
lisher with  a  white  mustache  and  cold  blue  eyes.  He  was  conservative 
and  formal,  but  at  the  same  time  a  firebrand  in  his  fashion  and  an  en- 
thusiast for  certain  issues.  Haynes  had  invited  him  to  hear  my  views, 
and  himself  introduced  the  subject  of  birth  control.  Thus  I  was  en- 
abled to  pave  the  way  for  having  G.  P.  Putnam's  Sons  eventually 
take  over  the  publication  of  Married  Love  in  this  country,  although 
not  until  193 1,  through  the  Major's  efforts,  was  the  ban  lifted  which 
prohibited  the  importation  of  the  complete  edition  into  the  United 
States. 

Harold  Cox,  brilliant  Member  of  Parliament  and  editor  of  the 
Edinburgh  Review,  was  another  delightful  host  at  Old  Kennards  in 
Buckinghamshire.  In  the  Review  he  was  constantly  helping  to  form 
an  enlightened  public  opinion  on  birth  control,  having  every  argu- 
ment at  his  finger  tips  and  never  missing  a  chance  to  answer  ques- 
tions in  the  London  Times. 

Hugh  and  Janet  de  Selincourt's  place  at  Torrington,  Sussex,  where 
Shelley  was  born,  always  was  a  haven  of  refuge.  After  five  days' 
work  in  town  I  could  come,  tired  and  pent-up,  for  a  week-end.  I 
loved  the  joy  and  simplicity  of  the  music  there,  the  lighthearted  con- 
versation, and  tea  on  the  lawn.  From  there  you  saw  English  ivy 
climbing  up  to  the  thatched  roof,  and  a  pond,  a  small  one,  which  had 
been  converted  into  a  swimming  pool.  The  general  impression  was 
of  shrubbery  and  old  walls  with  fruit  trees  trellised  against  them. 
Beyond  the  velvet  green  grass  were  red  tree  roses,  beautiful  borders 
of  pink  lupins,  and  delphiniums,  the  tallest  and  bluest  I  have  ever 
seen,  From  the  dining-room  window  the  effect  was  that  of  a  tapestry. 


0,    TO   BE   IN   ENGLAND  1 73 

I  wanted  some  day  to  embody  the  rambling  spirit  of  this  home  in  one 
of  my  own. 

Here  again  laughter  bound  me  to  these  people.  We  laughed  and 
we  laughed  and  we  laughed.  Whole  days  were  spent  in  gaiety  over 
the  most  absurd  things.  Hugh  could  never  quite  accept  me  as  a  cru- 
sader; he  went  into  roars  of  merriment  whenever  I  mentioned  the 
subject  of  population — it  was  too  much  for  a  woman  in  a  yellow 
dress  to  bother  about. 

But  many  of  my  week-ends  were  spent  in  "bothering"  about  it. 
At  Sunday  afternoon  labor  meetings  in  London  someone  was  always 
holding  forth.  "Here's  a  chance  for  you  to  talk  birth  control,"  Rose 
Witcop  once  urged. 

It  was  an  opportunity  to  reach  working  people  and  I  agreed,  but 
lunch  of  that  day  found  me  trembling.  Henry  Sara,  a  young  man 
but  old  in  the  ways  of  the  speaker,  noticed  I  was  not  eating  or  drink- 
ing and  could  hardly  utter  a  word.  "I  say,  what's  the  idea  of  all  this 
worry?  What  you  must  think  about  is  that  everybody  there  comes 
merely  to  hear  somebody  or  anybody.  They've  no  notion  what  you're 
going  to  say.  Anything  is  all  right  with  them.  Get  that  in  your  mind 
and  stop  worrying." 

His  friendly  encouragement  gave  me  a  little  more  fortitude,  but 
on  the  way  to  the  hall  Rose  Witcop  took  me  severely  to  task  for  the 
trembling,  which  I  seemed  unable  to  stop.  "These  are  just  plain 
people  you're  going  to  speak  to.  It's  utter  nonsense  to  be  nervous 
about  it." 

When  Rose  stood  up  to  introduce  me,  she  began,  "Comrades — " 
There  was  a  long  pause.  For  the  second  time  she  tried  in  a  less  as- 
sured tone,  "Comrades — "  Another  interval  and  a  third  time,  in  a 
voice  so  weak  she  herself  could  hardly  hear  it,  she  attempted,  "Com- 
rades— "  Then,  barely  whispering,  "Excuse  me,"  she  sat  down.  By 
comparison  my  speech  was  not  bad. 

Writing  at  this  time  was  a  means  of  expression  much  easier  than 
speaking.  I  had  not  forgotten  my  subscribers  to  the  Woman  Rebel. 
I  had  to  fulfill  my  obligations  and  supply  something  to  take  the  place 
of  the  three  issues  which  I  had  been  unable  to  furnish  them.  There- 
fore, I  wrote  three  pamphlets  on  methods  of  contraception  in  Eng- 
land, the  Netherlands,  and  France  respectively.  Printing  them  cost 


174  MARGARET   SANGER 

me  a  considerable  amount  of  money.  My  friends  in  Canada,  knowing 
I  was  not  affluent,  now  and  then  when  they  had  a  little  windfall  or 
unexpected  dividend  sent  me  small  checks  of  from  five  to  ten 
pounds,  saying,  "To  use  for  your  work."  These  had  come  in  quite 
often. 

( On  one  occasion  I  had  squeezed  my  pocketbook  dry  paying  for 
the  last  pamphlet ;  I  had  not  another  penny  to  buy  stamps.  Ten  days 
had  gone  by,  and  I  kept  wishing  something  might  come  in  to  help 
me  out.  That  morning  a  letter  arrived.  I  tore  it  apart  and  a  money 
order  dropped  out.  Hurrying  as  fast  as  I  could  to  the  post  office 
I  received  the  cash,  spent  it  all  on  stamps,  and  hastened  back  in 
the  hope  of  getting  the  whole  edition  off  on  the  Arabic;  in  wartime 
sailings  had  to  be  considered.  One  batch  of  envelopes  had  already 
gone  into  the  pillar  box,  and  I  was  just  finishing  addressing  and 
stamping  the  second  lot  when  I  heard  the  knocker  on  the  door  be- 
low clatter  through  the  house.  It  had  the  ring  of  authority  and 
sounded  so  ominous  that  I  felt  it  must  have  something  to  do  with  me. 

Sure  enough,  in  a  few  moments  a  bobby  and  a  man  in  plain  clothes 
appeared  at  my  threshold.  They  asked  whether  I  were  the  person  who 
had  been  sending  quantities  of  mail  to  a  foreign  address. 

"Yes,"  I  admitted  in  a  small  voice,  wondering  what  on  earth  was 
going  to  happen  now. 

The  bobby  came  closer,  showed  me  an  unopened  envelope,  and 
demanded  sternly,  "Did  you  post  this?" 

"I  think  so." 

"Madam,  in  England  we  never  put  His  Majesty  on  upside  down. 
We  do  not  represent  our  King  standing  on  his  head.  Will  you  please, 
in  affixing  your  stamps,  pay  attention  to  the  customs  of  our  coun- 
try?" 

The  care  with  which  I  stuck  on  the  remainder  right  side  up  de- 
layed me  so  that  I  barely  made  the  Arabic.  Only  then  did  I  have 
time  to  read  the  letter.  I  took  it  out  of  my  bag,  thinking  how  won- 
derful it  was  of  my  friends  to  send  me  the  money  and  how  much 
good  I  had  been  able  to  do  with  it.  To  my  consternation  and  amaze- 
ment it  was  not  for  my  use,  but  to  buy  gifts — certain  books  to  be  sent 
back  as  soon  as  possible. 

The  money  was  gone  and  the  presents  could  not  be  purchased. 


O,    TO    BE    IN    ENGLAND  175 

After  all  this  rush  and  pother  the  Arabic  was  torpedoed  and  went 
down  with  the  entire  two  thousand  pamphlets.  I  made  another  effort, 
this  time  successfully  completed,  and  shaped  an  article  on  Emerson, 
Thoreau,  and  Humphrey  Noyes  and  the  Oneida  Community,  about 
whom  the  English  were  talking. 

Meanwhile  I  had  written  to  Canada  apologizing  and  saying  I  ex- 
pected shortly  to  be  able  to  fulfill  the  commissions.  I  now  had  an 
opening  ahead  of  me  for  a  career  abroad.  Portet's  publishing  house 
in  Barcelona  was  closely  allied  with  others  in  Paris.  Through  him  I 
was  offered  the  job  of  choosing  appropriate  books  in  English,  whicll 
could  be  published  in  both  French  and  Spanish,  especially  works 
that  would  be  of  help  to  women  and  labor.  The  salary  was  satisfac- 
tory, the  job  itself  interesting,  and  it  gave  promise  of  permanency  as 
soon  as  the  War  should  be  over.  I  had  almost  decided  to  take  it, 
even  selecting  a  little  house  in  Versailles  with  sunny  rooms  and  a 
garden  for  the  children. 

There  was  only  one  drawback — the  subtle,  persistent  dread  that 
something  was  wrong  with  Peggy.  Night  after  night  her  voice  star- 
tled me  from  deep  sleep  and  left  me  in  a  state  of  agitation  until  I 
received  the  next  letter  containing  news  that  all  was  going  well.  I 
tried  to  dismiss  this  fear  and  would  have  it  partially  submerged,  but 
always  the  same  troubled  voice  rang  in  my  ears,  "Mother,  Mother, 
are  you  coming  back?" 

One  definite  though  inexplicable  experience  kept  puzzling  me. 
As  I  unclosed  my  eyes  in  the  morning,  or  even  before  I  was  completely 
awake,  I  became  conscious  of  the  number  6,  as  though  that  numeral 
were  repeating  itself  again  and  again  in  my  drowsy  mind.  I  often 
tried  to  fit  it  into  some  event  of  the  day — six  o'clock,  sixpence,  the 
price  of  tea,  or  anything  else  amusing,  and  as  casual  or  silly  as  I 
could  make  up.  This  I  did  to  protect  myself  against  the  premonition 
which  seemed  at  first  to  come  upon  me  with  the  recurrence  of  this 
number.  Later,  like  a  leaf  on  a  wall  calendar,  NOV.  6  stood  out. 
'/When  the  publisher  asked  me  to  commit  myself  by  signing  a 
three-year  contract  to  stay  in  Paris,  I  said,  "Yes,  I  will  if  you'll 
guarantee  to  lock  me  up  or  send  me  to  Africa  or  the  North  Pole  until 
after  November  6th." 

"Why  November  6th?" 


176  MARGARET   SANGER 

"I  don't  know,  but  I'm  certain  that  something  important  is  to  oc- 
cur on  that  day,  something  different,  and  something  which  will  affect 
my  entire  future." 

He  drew  up  our  plans  as  of  January  1st  of  the  following  year. 

Edith  Ellis  was  lecturing  in  America,  and  by  letter  we  arranged 
for  her  to  bring  back  Peggy  and  Grant,  because  it  appeared  I  might 
be  staying  for  some  time.  Then,  since  only  Peggy  seemed  lonely 
and  in  need  of  her  mother  and  Grant  was  happy  in  school,  it  was 
determined  he  should  be  left  there.  Edith  was  to  sail  with  Peggy  on 
the  Lusitania. 
i  When  word  was  flashed  that  the  liner  had  been  torpedoed,  I  stood 
in  the  middle  of  the  night  in  front  of  the  Cunard  office,  scanning 
with  horror  the  mounting  ranks  of  missing  and  dead.  Not  until 
two  in  the  morning  was  the  list  complete  and  could  I  breathe  once 
more ;  neither  Peggy's  nor  Edith's  name  was  on  it.  Edith  had  received 
one  of  those  slips  warning  prospective  passengers  that  the  ship  might 
be  blown  up,  and  was  one  of  the  few  who  had  heeded  the  admonition 
and  transferred  to  another  boat.  jEven  so,  the  thought  of  being  re- 
sponsible for  Peggy  had  been  too  alarming  and  she  had  decided  not 
to  bring  her. 

The  War  had  sent  many  Americans  back  from  Europe  and  Bill 
had  returned  to  New  York.  I  had  had  a  detailed  letter  from  him 
describing  the  stirring  events  of  the  previous  December.  A  man  in- 
troducing himself  as  A.  Heller  had  called  upon  him  at  his  studio 
and  requested  a  copy  of  Family  Limitation,  pleading  that  he  was 
poor,  had  too  large  a  family,  and  was  a  friend  of  mine.  Bill  said  he 
was  sorry  but  we  had  agreed  that  I  was  to  carry  on  my  work  inde- 
pendently of  him,  and  he  did  not  even  think  he  had  any  of  the 
pamphlets.  However,  the  man's  story  was  so  pathetic  that  he  rum- 
maged around  and  by  chance  found  one  in  the  library  drawer. 

A  few  days  later  Bill  opened  the  door  to  a  gray-haired,  side- 
whiskered  six-footer  who  lost  no  time  in  announcing,  "I  am  Mr. 
Comstock.  I  have  a  warrant  for  your  arrest  on  the  grounds  of  cir- 
culating obscene  literature."  Accompanying  him  was  the  so-called 
Heller,  who  turned  out  to  be  Charles  J.  Bamberger,  an  agent  of  the 
New  York  Society  for  the  Suppression  of  Vice.  The  three  departed 


O,    TO    BE    IN    ENGLAND  1 77 

but  Bill  soon  found  himself  in  a  restaurant  instead  of  the  police  sta- 
tion. When  he  protested  that  he  wished  to  consult  a  lawyer  with- 
out delay,  Comstock,  between  mouthfuls  of  lunch,  offered  advice. 
"Young  man,  I  want  to  act  as  a  brother  to  you.  Lawyers  are  ex- 
pensive and  will  only  aggravate  your  case."  Here  he  patted  Bill  on 
the  shoulder.  "Plead  guilty  to  this  charge,  and  I'll  ask  for  a  sus- 
pended sentence." 

Bill's  answer  was  that,  though  he  had  been  in  Europe  when  the 
pamphlet  had  been  written,  he  believed  in  the  principles  embodied  in 
it,  and  that,  therefore,  his  own  principles  were  at  stake.  He  would 
not  plead  guilty.  "You  know  as  well  as  I  do,  Mr.  Comstock,  there's 
nothing  obscene  in  that  pamphlet." 

"Young  man,  I  have  been  in  this  work  for  twenty  years,  and 
that  leaflet  is  the  worst  thing  I  have  ever  seen." 

This  sort  of  conversation  went  on  all  afternoon;  Comstock  even 
tried  to  bribe  Bill  to  turn  states'  evidence  by  disclosing  my  where- 
abouts. It  was  his  custom  to  arrive  at  the  police  station  so  late  that 
his  prisoner  could  not  communicate  with  a  lawyer  or  bonding  of- 
fice and  had  to  spend  the  night  in  jail.  He  could  then  make  a  state- 
ment to  the  papers  that  his  captive  had  been  unable  to  secure  bail. 

When  Comstock  and  Bill  at  last  reached  the  Yorkville  Police 
Court  and  the  clerk  had  asked  the  latter  how  he  wished  to  plead, 
Comstock  spoke  for  him,  "He  pleads  guilty." 

"I  do  not,"  expostulated  Bill.  "I  plead  not  guilty." 

He  was  arraigned  and  bail  fixed  at  five  hundred  dollars,  but  he 
was  obliged  to  spend  thirty-six  hours  in  jail  before  it  could  be  pro- 
cured. 

In  September  I  had  word  that,  after  several  postponements,  his 
trial  had  finally  come  up  before  Justices  Mclnerney,  Herbert,  and 
Salmon.  He  started  to  read  his  typewritten  statement.  "I  admit  that 
I  broke  the  law,  and  yet  I  claim  that  in  every  real  sense  it  is  the  law 
and  not  I  that  is  on  trial  here  today." 

Justice  Mclnerney  interrupted  him.  "You  admit  you  are  guilty, 
and  all  this  statement  of  yours  is  just  opinions.  I'm  not  going  to1 
have  a  lot  of  rigmarole  on  the  record.  We've  no  time  to  bother.  This 
book  is  not  only  indecent  but  immoral.  Its  circulation  is  a  menace 


178  MARGARET    SANGER 

to  society.  Too  many  women  are  going  around  advocating  woman 
suffrage.  If  they  would  go  around  advocating  bearing  children  we 
should  be  better  off. 

"The  statute  gives  you  the  privilege  of  being  fined  for  this  of- 
fense, but  I  do  not  believe  this  should  be  so.  A  man,  guilty  as  you 
are,  ought  to  have  no  alternative  from  a  prison  sentence.  One  hun- 
dred and  fifty  dollars  or  thirty  days  in  jail." 

"Then  I  want  to  say  to  the  court,"  shouted  Bill,  leaning  forward 
and  raising  his  hand  for  greater  emphasis,  "that  I  would  rather  be 
in  jail  with  my  self-respect  than  in  your  place  without  it!" 

Although  he  was  convinced  of  the  justice  of  my  cause,  this  was 
the  first  and  only  copy  of  the  pamphlet  he  had  ever  given  out  It 
was  one  of  life's  sharpest  ironies  that,  despite  our  separation,  he 
should  have  been  drawn  into  my  battle,  and  go  to  prison  for  it. 

When  I  received  Bill's  letter  bearing  this  news,  I  tore  across  the 
lawn  to  Dr.  Vickery's.  Dr.  Drysdale  happened  to  be  there,  and  in 
his  indignation  his  face  became  red  and  his  hands  were  clenched.  He 
tramped  up  and  down  the  floor  in  a  frenzy  of  rage  that  such  a  thing 
could  be  done  to  any  human  being.  I  am  still  touched  when  I  think 
of  this  mild,  gentle  person  being  moved  to  depths  of  anger  over  an 
injustice  which  did  not  affect  him  personally. 

The  question  before  me  was,  "Should  I  go  back?"  As  had  gone 
Bill's  trial  so  would  probably  go  my  own.  I  did  not  want  to  sacrifice 
myself  in  a  lost  cause.  I  was  young,  and  knew  I  should  be  used  for 
something.  Temporarily  postponing  my  final  answer  to  the  publish- 
ing house,  I  decided  to  return  to  the  United  States,  but  only  long 
enough  to  survey  the  situation,  to  gather  up  my  children.  I  intended, 
if  possible,  to  come  back  to  that  little  house  in  Versailles. 


T 


Chapter  Fifteen 


HIGH  HANGS  THE  GAUNTLET 


"Let  God  and  man  decree 
Laws  for  themselves  and  not  for  me; 
Their  deeds  I  judge  and  much  condemn 
Yet  when  did  I  make  laws  for  them?" 

A.   E.    HOUSMAN 


.  fff-  fff-  fff-  fff-  fff-  fff-  fff-  fff-  fff- 
5SSr  N\V*  \\V*  \W  \W  \W  SiW  VW  V»V* 

HE  end  of  September,  19 15,  I  set  sail  from  Bordeaux.  \[  re- 
member how  interminable  that  voyage  was  across  the  dan- 
gerous, foggy  Atlantic.  The  shadow  of  the  Lusitania  hung  over  us. 
The  ship  was  absolutely  dark,  and  tension  crackled  in  the  very  air. 
My  own  thoughts  were  black  as  the  night  and  the  old  nervousness, 
the  nervousness  that  came  with  a  queer  gripping  at  the  pit  of  the 
stomach,  was  upon  me ;  a  dread  presentiment  and  a  foreboding  were 
with  me  almost  incessantly. 

When  I  succeeded  in  snatching  a  few  hours'  sleep  I  was  startled 
out  of  unpleasant  dreams.  One  of  them  was  of  attempting  to  strug- 
gle through  a  crowded  street  against  traffic;  I  was  pushed  to  the 
curb  and  had  to  make  my  way  cautiously.  The  mechanical,  autom- 
aton-like crowds  were  walking,  walking,  walking,  always  in  the 
opposite  direction.  Then  suddenly  in  my  dream  the  people  turned 
into  mice — thousands  and  thousands  of  them ;  they  even  smelled  like 
mice.  I  awakened  and  had  to  open  the  porthole  to  rid  the  room  of 
that  musty  smell  of  mice. 

At  last  the  lights  of  Staten  Island,  winking  like  specters  in  the 
dim  dawn,  signaled  our  safe  arrival  at  quarantine.  As  the  ship  sidled 
along  the  wharf  at  West  Fourteenth  Street  on  that  gray  October 
morning,  a  new  exhilaration,  a  new  hope  arose  in  my  heart. 

To  see  American  faces  again  after  the  unutterable  despair  of 

179 


l8o  MARGARET   SANGER 

Europe,  to  sense  the  rough  democracy  of  the  porters  and  of  the 
good-hearted,  hard-boiled  taxi-drivers ;  to  breathe  in  the  crisp,  elec- 
tric autumn  air  of  home — all  these  brought  with  them  an  irresistible 
gladness.  Because  I  wanted  the  feeling  to  linger,  I  refused  a  taxi, 
picked  up  my  small  bag,  and  walked  away  from  the  pier,  looking 
about. 

[At  the  first  news  stand  I  passed  I  caught  sight  of  the  words, 
"What  Shall  We  Do  About  Birth  Control?"  on  the  cover  of  the 
Pictorial  Review.  It  seemed  strange  to  be  greeted,  not  by  friends 
or  relatives,  but  by  a  phrase  of  your  own  carried  on  a  magazine.  I 
purchased  it  and,  singing  to  myself,  went  on  to  a  hotel  where  the 
children  were  brought  to  me.  I  cannot  describe  the  joy  of  being  re- 
united with  them. 

That  evening  I  sat  down  at  my  desk  and  wrote  several  letters.  I 
notified  Judge  Hazel  and  Assistant  District  Attorney  Content  that 
I  was  now  back  and  ready  for  trial,  and  inquired  whether  the  in- 
dictments of  the  previous  year  were  still  pending;  I  was  politely 
informed  that  they  were. 

A  note  more  difficult  to  compose  went  to  the  National  Birth  Con- 
trol League,  which  had  been  re-organized  in  my  absence  under  the 
leadership  of  Mary  Ware  Dennett,  Clara  Stillman,  and  Anita  Block. 
To  it  had  been  turned  over  all  my  files,  including  the  list  of  sub- 
scribers to  the  Woman  Rebel.  I  asked  them  what  moral  support  I 
could  expect  from  the  League,  saying  this  would  help  to  determine 
the  length  of  my  stay. 

Mrs.  Stillman,  the  secretary,  invited  me  to  call  a  few  days  later  at 
her  home,  where  an  executive  meeting  was  to  convene.  I  went  with 
keen  anticipation,  totally  unprepared  for  the  actual  answer.  The 
committee  had  met.  Mrs.  Dennett,  Mrs.  Stillman,  and  Anita  were 
all  there.  Mrs.  Dennett  spoke  for  the  group ;  the  National  Birth  Con- 
trol League  disagreed  with  my  methods,  my  tactics,  with  everything 
I  had  done.  Such  an  organization  as  theirs,  the  function  of  which  was 
primarily  to  change  the  laws  in  an  orderly  and  proper  manner,  could 
not  logically  sanction  anyone  who  had  broken  those  laws. 

After  delivering  this  ultimatum,  Mrs.  Dennett  walked  to  the  door 
with  me.  Would  I  mind  giving  her  the  names  and  addresses  of  those 
socially  prominent  and  distinguished  persons  I  had  found  on  my 


HIGH    HANGS    THE    GAUNTLET  l8l 

European  trip  to  be  interested?  Heartsick  as  I  was  over  my  recep- 
tion, I  was  also  amused  at  her  shrewdness. 

Mrs.  Dennett  was  a  good  promoter  and  experienced  campaigner, 
a  capable  office  executive,  an  indefatigable  worker  for  suffrage  and 
peace,  with  a  background  that  might  have  been  invaluable.  I  often 
regretted  that  we  could  not  have  combined  our  efforts.  Had  we  been 
able  to  do  so  the  movement  might  have  been  pushed  many  years 
ahead: 

My  fourth  communication  was  to  Dr.  William  J.  Robinson,  an 
emigre  from  the  land  of  orthodox  medicine,  who  was  possessed  of 
a  sensitivity  to  current  moods.  When  he  had  realized  that  Will 
Durant's  lectures  had  aroused  interest  in  sex  psychology,  he  had 
stepped  in  to  speak  to  larger  audiences,  using  a  more  popular  ap- 
proach, although,  as  far  as  I  know,  he  had  never  publicly  discussed 
the  prevention  of  conception. 

Dr.  Abraham  Jacoby,  beloved  dean  of  the  profession,  in  accept- 
ing the  presidency  of  the  Academy  of  Medicine,  had  backed  birth 
control,  and  through  Dr.  Robinson's  endeavors  a  small  committee 
had  later  been  formed  to  look  into  it.  From  the  reports  that  had 
come  to  me  I  could  not  discover  whether  any  harmonious  agreement 
that  the  subject  lay  within  the  province  of  medicine  had  been  made. 
To  my  inquiry  Dr.  Robinson  replied  that  the  committee  had  met 
only  once  and  he  considered  I  could  expect  no  support  from  them. 
He  enclosed  a  check  for  ten  dollars  towards  the  expenses  of  my  trial. 

Here  were  two  disappointments  to  face.  Both  these  organizations 
had  seemed  so  well  suited  to  continue  progress:  one  to  change  the 
laws,  the  other  to  take  proper  medical  charge.  Neither  had  fulfilled 
my  hopes  and  therefore  I  felt  I  had  to  enter  the  fray  again.  My 
burning  concern  for  the  thousands  of  women  who  went  unregarded 
could  apparently  find  no  official  endorsement ;  birth  control  was 
back  again  where  it  had  started.  I  was  convinced  I  had  to  depend 
solely  upon  the  compassionate  insight  of  intelligent  women,  which 
I  was  certain  was  latent  and  could  be  aroused. 

But  these  problems  were  suddenly  swept  aside  by  a  crisis  of  a 
more  intimate  nature,  a  tragedy  about  which  I  find  myself  still  un- 
able to  write,  though  so  many  years  have  passed. 

A  few  days  after  my  arrival  Peggy  was  taken  ill  with  pneumonia. 


1 82  MARGARET    SANGER 

When  Mr.  Content  telephoned  to  say  I  had  better  come  down  and 
talk  it  over,  I  could  not  go.  He  was  extremely  kind,  assuring  me 
there  was  no  hurry  and  he  would  postpone  the  trial  until  I  was 
free.  This  allowed  me  to  devote  my  whole  attention  and  time  to  her. 

Peggy  died  the  morning  of  November  6,  191 5. ; 

The  joy  in  the  fullness  of  life  went  out  of  it  then  and  has  never 
quite  returned/;  Deep  in  the  hidden  realm  of  my  consciousness  my 
little  girl  has  continued  to  live,  and  in  that  strange,  mysterious  place 
where  reality  and  imagination  meet,  she  has  grown  up  to  woman- 
hood. There  she  leads  an  ideal  existence  untouched  by  harsh  actuality 
and  disillusion. 

[  Men  and  women  from  all  classes,  from  nearly  every  city  in  Amer- 
ica, poured  upon  me  their  sympathy.  Money  for  my  trial  came 
beyond  my  understanding — not  large  amounts,  but  large  for  the 
senders — from  miners  of  West  Virginia  and  lumbermen  of  the 
North  Woods.  Some  had  walked  five  miles  to  read  Family  Limita- 
tion; others  had  had  it  copied  for  them.  Women  wrote  of  children 
dead  a  quarter  of  a  century  for  whom  they  were  still  secretly  mourn- 
ing, and  sent  me  pictures  and  locks  of  hair  of  their  own  dead  babies. 
I  had  never  fully  realized  until  then  that  the  loss  of  a  child  remains 
un forgotten  to  every  mother  during  her  lifetime.  \ 

Public  opinion  had  been  focused  on  Comstock's  activities  by 
Bill's  sentence,  and  the  liberals  had  been  aroused.  Committees  of  two 
and  three  came  to  request  me  to  take  up  the  purely  legislative  task 
of  changing  the  Federal  law.  Aid  would  be  forthcoming — special 
trains  to  Congress,  investigations,  commissions,  and  victory  in  sight 
before  the  year  was  over!  It  was  tempting.  It  seemed  so  feasible 
on  the  surface,  so  much  easier  than  agonizing  delays  through  the 
courts.  Many  others  advised  me  just  as  before  that  in  pleading 
guilty  I  was  choosing  the  best  field  in  which  to  make  my  fight. 

One  of  those  to  urge  me  towards  a  middle  course  was  Max 
Eastman,  who  possessed  an  unusual  evenness  of  temper  and  toler- 
ance towards  all  who  opposed  him  as  well  as  a  keen  mind  and  keen 
imagination  which  followed  hypotheses  to  logical  conclusions.  This 
soft-voiced,  lethargic  poet,  mentally  and  emotionally  controlled,  had 
too  great  a  sense  of  humor  and  ability  in  visualizing  events  in  their 
proper  perspective  to  advocate  direct  action. 


HIGH    HANGS   THE   GAUNTLET  183 

Max  made  an  appointment  for  me  to  see  Samuel  Untermyer,  au- 
thority on  constitutional  law  and  a  person  to  whom  liberals  turned 
because  of  the  fight  he  had  put  up  against  the  trusts;  he  might 
straighten  out  the  legal  aspects.  I  found  him  enthroned  in  his  lux- 
urious office  amid  the  most  magnificent  American  Beauty  roses — 
dozens  and  dozens  and  dozens.  With  his  piercing  eyes  and  head  too 
large  for  his  frame,  he  appeared  a  disembodied  brain.  Though  the 
appointment  had  been  made  with  difficulty — writing  and  telephon- 
ing back  and  forth  through  secretaries  to  be  verified — time  now 
was  nothing  to  him.  He  was  so  smooth,  so  courteous,  so  sympathetic, 
so  unhurried;  he  seemed  to  understand  and  to  be  ready  to  lift  the 
load  of  legal  worry  from  my  mind. 

Picking  up  the  telephone,  he  said,  "Get  me  Mr.  Content."  Then, 
"Harold,  come  on  over  to  my  office  and  bring  your  record  on  Mrs. 
Sanger." 

When  the  District  Attorney  had  arrived,  Mr.  Untermyer' s  whole 
voice  changed.  He  spoke  sternly  to  the  young  man.  "Why,  Harold, 
what  are  you  trying  to  do — persecuting  this  little  woman,  so  frail 
and  so  delicate,  the  mother  of  a  family?  You  don't  want  to  put  her 
behind  bars,  do  you?  She's  doing  a  noble  work  in  the  world  and 
here  you  are  behaving  like  this!  Are  you  representing  the  Govern- 
ment or  are  you  merely  prejudiced  in  your  own  behalf?" 

Mr.  Content  replied  respectfully,  "Well,  Mr.  Untermyer,  we  don't 
want  to  prosecute  Mrs.  Sanger,  but  we  want  her  to  promise  to  obey 
the  law." 

"Has  she  broken  the  law  ?" 

"We  have  positive  proof  that  she  has  violated  it  on  a  very  large 
scale." 

Mr.  Untermyer  immediately  assured  him,  "Why,  of  course,  she'll 
promise  not  to  break  any  more  laws.  Is  that  all  it  is?  You  just  quash 
that  indictment  and  forget  about  it." 

Mr.  Content  left.  Mr.  Untermyer  turned  to  me  genially  and  said, 
"Well,  you  see  ?  We've  fixed  that  up." 

"What's  going  to  happen?  The  law  will  be  the  same,  won't  it?" 

"Why,  yes." 

"What  was  that  you  said  about  a  promise?" 

"Oh,  yes,  write  me  a  letter  saying  you  won't  break  the  law  again." 


184  MARGARET    SANGER 

"I  couldn't  promise  that,  Mr.  Untermyer." 

"What?" 

"No,  I  couldn't  do  that.  The  law  is  there.  Something  must  hap- 
pen to  it." 

"The  law  may  not  be  what  it  should  be,  but  you'll  never  get  any- 
where by  violating  it.  It  must  be  changed  by  legal  methods ;  gather 
all  your  friends  and  go  to  Congress." 

Again  I  stated  my  position.  The  law  specified  obscenity,  and  I  had 
done  nothing  obscene.  I  even  had  the  best  of  the  Government  as  re- 
garded the  precise  charge.  I  had  not  given  contraceptive  information 
in  the  Woman  Rebel,  and  therefore  had  not  violated  the  law  either 
in  spirit  or  principle.  But  I  had  done  so  in  circulating  Family  Limi- 
tation, and  that  would  inevitably  be  brought  up.  I  really  wanted  this, 
so  that  birth  controj  would  be  defined  once  and  for  all  as  either 
obscene  or  not  obscene. 

Mr.  Untermyer  took  down  one  of  his  ponderous  books  and  read 
over  the  section  in  question.  Again  he  said,  "The  evidence  is  that 
you  have  violated  the  law.  We  don't  separate  the  spirit  from  the 
letter.  It  is  all  there.  It  seems  to  me  that  pleading  guilty  would  let 
you  out  of  your  troubles  without  loss  of  dignity.  You  should  con- 
sider yourself  fortunate  at  the  suggested  outcome.  You  can  gain 
nothing  by  trial.  You  cannot  even  get  publicity  in  these  days  when 
the  papers  are  crowded  with  war  news  and  the  big  events  of  history 
are  happening." 

I  still  could  not  admit  his  interpretation.  You  had  to  differentiate 
between  the  things  mentioned  in  that  law  and  actual  obscenity;  the 
courts  would  some  day  have  to  decide  on  this. 

"You  have  no  case,"  Mr.  Untermyer  persisted.  "If  you  have 
broken  the  law,  there  is  nothing  anyone  can  do  or  say  to  argue  that 
fact  away.  We  must  prevent  your  going  to  jail,  however.  I'll  see 
what  I  can  do." 

"I'm  not  concerned  with  going  to  jail.  Going  in  or  staying  out 
has  nothing  to  do  with  it.  The  question  at  stake  is  whether  I  have 
or  have  not  done  something  obscene.  If  I  have  done  nothing  obscene 
I  cannot  plead  guilty." 

Mr.  Untermyer  was  upset.  Instead  of  his  former  warmth  I  was 
aware  of  a  curt  and  cold  politeness.  I  went  from  his  office  feeling  I 


HIGH    HANGS   THE    GAUNTLET  1 85 

had  had  an  opportunity  to  make  a  powerful  friend  and  had  lost  it 
by  refusing  to  accept  the  legal  point  of  view. 

Max  also  was  decidedly  angry.  His  attitude  was,  "We  tried  to 
help  you,  and  you  declined  help."  He  wrote  formally: 

You  could  accompany  your  plea  of  guilty  with  a  statement,  both 
before  the  Court  and  for  the  press,  which  would  make  it  a  far  more 
signal  attack  upomthe  law  to  whose  violation  you  would  be  pleading 
guilty  than  a  plea  of  not  guilty.  It  would  do  a  thousand  times  more 
good.  At  the  same  time  it  would  satisfy  your  pride,  or  your  feeling 
that  you  ought  to  be  brave  enough  to  stand  up  for  what  you  think, 
or  whatever  it  is  that  is  making  you  refuse  the  advice  of  counsel. 

I  would  not  plead  guilty  on  any  count.  They  could  not  make  me. 
I  felt  deep  within  me  that  I  was  right  and  they  were  wrong.  I  still 
had  that  naive  trust  that  when  the  facts  were  known,  the  Govern- 
ment would  not  wilfully  condemn  millions^0f  wdnten  to  death,  mis- 
ery, or  abortion  which  left  them  physically  damaged  and  spiritually 
crippled. 

Clarence  Darrow  and  other  liberal  lawyers  from  various  cities 
generously  offered  to  come  to  New  York  to  present  the  case  free 
of  charge,  but  after  my  Untermyer  interview  I  was  convinced  that 
the  quibbles  of  lawyers  inevitably  beclouded  the  fundamental  issues ; 
I  had  to  move  people  and  persuade  them  emotionally.  I  had  no  prac- 
tice in  public  speaking ;  mine  was  the  valor  of  faith.  However,  I  was 
certain  that  speaking  from  the  fullness  of  my  heart  I  would  be 
guided  by  the  greatness  and  profundity  of  my  conviction.  In  spite 
of  the  old  adage  that  "he  who  has  himself  for  a  lawyer  has  a  fool 
for  a  client,"  I  was  confident  that  any  jury  of  honest  men  would 
acquit  me. 

I  asked  Mr.  Content  to  put  my  case  on  the  calendar  as  soon  as 
possible.  It  was  called  for  the  end  of  November,  then  set  for  Janu- 
ary 1 8th,  then  January  24th.  I  used  to  go  almost  weekly  to  demand 
that  it  take  place,  always  stressing  the  fact  that  I  wanted  a  trial  by 
jury.  One  of  the  judges  that  I  came  before  in  these  various  courts 
had  previously  asked  me  in  a  personal  letter  to  send  him  Family 
Limitation,  and  I  had  mailed  it  to  him  with  my  compliments.  The 
twinkle  in  his  eyes  was  reflected  in  mine;  we  both  knew  that  he  as 
well  as  I  had  been  technically  breaking  the  law. 


1 86  MARGARET   SANGER 

As  the  New  York  Sun  commented,  "The  Sanger  case  presents 
the  anomaly  of  a  prosecutor  loath  to  prosecute  and  a  defendant 
anxious  to  be  tried."  The  newspapers  were  taking  ever-increasing 
notice.  A  photograph  of  myself  and  my  two  young  sons  circulated 
widely  and  seemed  to  alter  the  attitude  of  a  heretofore  cynical  pub- 
lic. At  that  time  I  thought  the  papers  were  against  me,  but  looking 
over  these  old  clippings  today  I  realize  this  was  merely  the  imper- 
sonality of  the  news  columns.  Their  editorial  hesitancy  made  them 
appear,  like  all  other  conservative  and  reactionary  forces,  my  op- 
ponents. But  the  rank  and  file  of  American  newspaperdom,  though 
they  must  always  have  their  little  jokes,  have  always  been  sympa- 
thetic. 

They  printed  the  letter  to  Woodrow  Wilson,  initiated  by  Marie 
Stopes.  It  "begged  to  call  the  attention"  of  the  President  to  the  fact 
that  I  was  in  danger  of  criminal  prosecution  for  circulating  a  pam- 
phlet on  birth  control,  which  was  allowed  in  every  civilized  country 
except  the  United  States;  that  England  had  passed  through  the 
phase  of  prohibiting  this  subject  a  generation  before;  and  that  to 
suppress  serious  and  disinterested  opinion  on  anything  so  important 
was  detrimental  to  human  progress.  It  respectfully  urged  the  Presi- 
dent to  exert  his  powerful  influence  in  behalf  of  free  speech  and  the 
betterment  of  the  race.  \This  letter  was  invaluable  by  reason  of  its 
signatories — Lena  Ashwell,  William  Archer,  Percy  Ames,  Aylmer 
Maude,  M.  C.  Stopes,  Arnold  Bennett,  Edward  Carpenter,  Gilbert 
Murray,  and  H.  G.  Wells,  whose  name  was  newsj  If  a  group  of  such 
eminence  in  England  could  afford  to  stand  by  me,  then  the  same 
kind  of  people  here  might  be  less  timorous. 

As  public  sentiment  grew,  telegrams  and  letters  showered  upon 
Judge  Clayton  demanding  the  dismissal  of  the  charges  against  me. 
He  piled  them  in  wastebaskets  and  remarked  in  a  bored  tone  to 
Mr.  Content,  "Take  these  Sanger  letters  away."  That  I  was  pre- 
paring to  go  to  court  undefended  by  counsel  was  making  the  mat- 
ter harder  for  them. 

My  radical  allies  were,  according  to  their  habit,  collecting  money 
for  my  defense,  but  this  had  no  effect  on  my  private  financial  status. 
My  sister,  Ethel,  who  was  living  with  me,  thought  I  ought  to  be 


HIGH    HANGS   THE   GAUNTLET  1 87 

considering  the  matter.  One  day  she  said,  "I've  a  good  case  for 
you.  Wouldn't  you  like  to  take  it?" 

"What  kind?" 

"Maternity.  She  expects  to  be  delivered  in  a  day  or  two — probably. 
a  Caesarian.  She  asked  for  me,  but  I'd  rather  you  had  it." 

"I'm  not  interested,  thank  you.  I've  given  up  nursing." 

"Well,  Mrs.  Sanger,"  she  remarked  ironically,  "would  you  mind 
telling  me  what  you're  going  to  do  to  earn  your  living?" 

"I'm  not  interested  in  earning  my  living.  I've  cast  myself  upon 
the  universe  and  it  will  take  care  of  me." 

She  looked  at  me  sadly  and  with  worried  apprehension. 

Three  days  later  Ethel  received  the  anticipated  summons.  On  her 
way  out  she  picked  up  the  mail  at  the  door.  In  it  was  a  letter  from 
a  California  acquaintance  of  hers  who  did  not  know  where  I  was 
but  had  her  address.  "Will  you  please  give  the  enclosed  forty-five 
dollars  to  Margaret  Sanger  from  her  sympathizers?" 

Ethel  handed  it  to  me  with  the  resigned  comment,  "Well,  here's 
your  check  from  God." 

The  editor  of  the  Woman  Rebel  had  struck  her  single  match  of 
defiance,  but  she  could  be  of  slight  significance  in  the  forward  march 
towards  "women's  rights."  In  Feminist  circles  I  was  little  known. 
With  my  personal  sorrow,  my  manifold  domestic  duties,  my  social 
shyness,  I  avoided  meeting  new  people.  My  attitude  thus  created 
some  reluctance  among  those  who  might  otherwise  have  hastened 
to  my  aid.  Indeed,  I  wanted  a  certain  type  of  support,  but  I  could 
not  take  the  initiative  in  asking  for  it. 

This  was  suddenly  done  for  me.  One  afternoon  I  was  invited 
to  a  tea  arranged  by  Henrietta  Rodman,  Feminist  of  Feminists,  in 
her  Greenwich  Village  apartment.  Wells  was  particularly  sanctified 
among  her  group  and  I  must  be  all  right  if  he  approved.  As  a  result 
of  that  meeting  the  suffrage  worker,,  Alice  Carpenter,  set  the  wheels 
in  motion  for  a  dinner  at  the  Brevoort  Hotel  to  be  held  January 
23rd,  the  evening  preceding  my  trial.  I  was  to  be  given  a  chance 
to  say  my  say,  speak  my  piece  before  a  gathering  of  influential  peo- 
ple. Although  I  did  not  see  her  until  some  years  after,  I  thanked  her 
in  my  heart  many  times  for  what  she  had  done. 


1 88  MARGARET    SANGER 

In  the  ballroom  were  collected  several  hundred  people.  Mary 
Heaton  Vorse,  Dr.  Mary  Halton,  Jack  Reed,  Dr.  Robinson,  Frances 
Brooks  Ackerman,  Walter  Lippmann,  then  of  the  New  Republic, 
and  Mrs.  Thomas  Hepburn,  the  Kathy  Houghton  of  my  Corning 
childhood,  all  were  there. 

As  we  were  about  to  go  in  to  dinner,  Rose  Pastor  Stokes,  the 
Chairman,  took  me  aside  and  said,  "Something  very  disturbing  has 
happened.  We've  just  been  talking  to  Dr.  Jacoby.  He  has  a  speech 
ready  in  which  he  intends  to  blast  you  to  the  skies  for  interfering 
in  what  should  be  a  strictly  medical  matter.  Remember  he's  greatly 
admired  and  he's  speaking  here  tonight  for  the  doctors.  We  meant  to 
have  you  come  at  the  end  of  the  program  but  now  we're  going  to 
put  you  first  so  that  you  can  spike  his  guns." 

My  trepidation  was  increased.  Nevertheless,  I  plunged  into  my 
carefully  prepared  maiden  speech  in  behalf  of  birth  control.  Fortu- 
nately I  had  already  planned  to  upbraid  the  doctors  who  daily  saw 
the  conditions  which  had  so  moved  me  and  yet  made  it  necessary  for 
a  person  like  myself,  not  equipped  as  they  were,  to  stir  up  public 
opinion.  It  was  like  carrying  coals  to  Newcastle;  they  should  have 
been  teaching  me. 

I  said  I  recognized  that  many  of  those  before  me  of  diverse  out- 
looks and  temperaments  would  support  birth  control  propaganda 
if  carried  out  in  what  they  regarded  as  a  safe  and  sane  manner, 
although  they  did  not  countenance  the  methods  I  had  been  follow- 
ing in  my  attempt  to  arouse  working  women  to  the  fact  that  having 
a  child  was  a  supreme  responsibility.  There  was  nothing  new  or 
radical  in  birth  control,  which  Aristotle  and  Plato  as  well  as  many 
modern  thinkers  had  demonstrated.  But  the  ideas  of  wise  men  and 
scientists  were  sterile  and  did  not  affect  the  tremendous  facts  of 
life  among  the  disinherited.  All  the  while  their  discussions  had 
been  proceeding,  the  people  themselves  had  been  and  still  were 
blindly,  desperately,  practicing  birth  control  by  the  most  barbaric 
methods — infanticide,  abortion,  and  other  crude  ways.  I  might  have 
taken  up  a  policy  of  safety,  sanity,  and  conservatism — but  would 
I  have  secured  a  hearing?  Admittedly  physicians  and  scientists  had 
far  more  technical  knowledge  than  I,  but  I  had  found  myself  in 
the  position  of  one  who  had  discovered  a  house  was  on  fire  and  it 


HIGH    HANGS  THE   GAUNTLET  1 89 

was  up  to  me  to  shout  out  the  warning.  Afterwards  others,  more 
experienced  in  executive  organization,  could  gather  together  and 
direct  all  the  sympathy  and  interest  which  had  been  aroused.  Only 
in  this  way  could  I  be  vindicated. 

Since  my  charge  had  forestalled  his,  the  venerable  Dr.  Jacoby 
either  had  to  answer  me  or  shift  his  ground.  He  chose  the  latter 
course  and  talked  -on  the  question  of  quality  in  population,  which 
might  perhaps  have  been  construed  as  in  my  favor. 

Many  of  the  women  present  were  comfortable  examples  of  the 
manner  in  which  birth  control  could  enable  them  to  lead  dignified 
lives.  Elsie  Clews  Parsons  made  the  suggestion  that  twenty-five  who 
had  practiced  it  should  rise  in  court  with  me  and  plead  guilty  before 
the  law.  But  only  one  volunteered.  What  surprised  me  most  was 
the  voice  of  Mary  Ware  Dennett  announcing  that  she  represented 
the  National  Birth  Control  League  and  that  that  body  was  going 
to  stand  behind  Margaret  Sanger  in  her  ordeal — subscriptions  were 
urgently  needed  for  the  League. 

(The  next  morning  when  I  arrived  at  nine  o'clock  at  the  Federal 
Court  building  more  than  two  hundred  partisans  were  already  in 
the  corridors.  A  great  corps  of  reporters  and  photographers  was  on 
hand.  The  stage  had  been  set  for  an  exciting  drama. 

Judge  Henry  D.  Clayton  and  Assistant  District  Attorneys  Knox 
and  Content  arrived  at  ten-thirty,  apparently  feeling  the  effects  of  the 
publicity  of  the  night  before. 

The  moment  Knox  moved  to  adjourn  for  a  week  I  was  on  my  feet 
asking  immediate  trial,  but  Judge  Clayton  postponed  the  case. 
Everybody  went  home  disappointed.) 

February  18th  the  Government  finally  entered  a  nolle  prosequi; 
Content  explained  there  had  been  many  assertions  that  the  defend- 
ant was  the  victim  of  persecution,  and  that  had  never  been  the  intent 
of  the  Federal  authorities.  "The  case  had  been  laid  before  the  grand 
jurors  as  impartially  as  possible  and  since  they  had  voted  an  indict- 
ment there  was  nothing  that  the  District  Attorney  could  do  but 
prosecute.  Now,  however,  as  it  was  realized  that  the  indictment  was 
two  years  old,  and  that  Mrs.  Sanger  was  not  a  disorderly  person  and 
did  not  make  a  practice  of  publishing  such  articles,  the  Government 
had  considered  there  was  reason  for  considerable  doubt." 


I9O  MARGARET    SANGER 

Well,  when  an  army  marches  up  the  hill  and  then  marches  down 
again  some  good  excuse  must  always  be  given. 

All  my  friends  regarded  the  quashing  of  the  Federal  indictment 
a  great  achievement.  There  was  much  rejoicing  and  congratulation, 
but  they  acted  as  though  they  were  saying,  "Now  settle  down  in 
your  domestic  corner,  take  your  husband  back,  care  for  your  chil- 
dren, behave  yourself,  and  no  more  of  this  nonsense.  Your  duty  is 
to  do  the  thing  you  are  able  to  do  which  is  mind  your  home  and  not 
attempt  something  others  can  do  better  than  you." 

But  I  was  not  content  to  have  a  Liberty  Dinner  and  jubilate.  I 
could  not  consider  anything  more  than  a  moral  victory  had  been 
attained.  The  law  had  not  been  tested.  I  agreed  with  the  loyal  Globe, 
which  staunchly  maintained,  "If  the  matter  Mrs.  Sanger  sent 
through  the  mails  was  obscene  two  years  ago,  it  is  still  obscene."  I 
knew  and  felt  instinctively  the  danger  of  having  a  privilege  under 
a  law  rather  than  a  right.  I  could  not  yet  afford  to  breathe  a  sigh 
of  relief. 

The  Federal  law  concerned  only  printed  literature.  My  own 
pamphlet  had  given  the  impression  that  the  printed  word  was  the 
best  way  to  inform  women,  but  the  practical  course  of  contracep- 
tive technique  I  had  taken  in  the  Netherlands  had  shown  me  that 
one  woman  was  so  different  from  another  in  structure  that  each 
needed  particular  information  applied  to  herself  as  an  individual. 
Books  and  leaflets,  therefore,  should  be  of  secondary  importance. 
The  public  health  way  was  through  personal  instruction  in  clinics. 

\A  light  had  been  kindled;  so  many  invitations  to  address  meet- 
ings in  various  cities  and  towns  were  sent  me  that  I  was  not  able 
to  accept  them  all  but  agreed  to  as  many  as  I  could.  It  was  no  longer 
to  be  only  a  free  speech  movement,  and  I  wanted  also  if  possible  to 
present  this  new  idea  of  clinics  to  the  country..  If  I  could  start  them, 
other  organizations  and  even  hospitals  might  do  the  same.  I  had  a 
vision  of  a  "chain" — thousands  of  them  in  every  center  of  America, 
staffed  with  specialists  putting  the  subject  on  a  modern  scientific  basis 
through  research. 

Many  states  in  the  West  had  already  granted  woman  suffrage. 
Having  achieved  this  type  of  freedom,  I  was  sure  they  would  re- 
ceive clinics  more  readily,  especially  California  which  had  no  law 


HIGH    HANGS   THE   GAUNTLET  191 

against  birth  control.  The  same  thing  would  follow  in  the  East.  As 
I  told  the  Tribune ',  "I  have  the  word  of  four  prominent  physicians 
that  they  will  support  me  in  the  work.  .  .  .  There  will  be  nurses 
in  attendance  at  the  clinic,  and  doctors  who  will  instruct  women  in 
the  things  they  need  to  know.  All  married  women  or  women  about 
to  be  married  will  be  assisted  free  and  without  question." 

A  splendid  promise — but  difficult  to  fulfill,  as  events  were  to  prove. 


Chapter  Sixteen 


HEAR  ME  FOR  MY  CAUSE 


"Speak  clearly  if  you  speak  at  all. 
Carve  every  word  before  you  let  it  fall: 

OLIVER   WENDELL   HOLMES 


ONCE  Amos  Pinchot  asked  me  how  long  it  had  taken  me  to 
prepare  that  first  lecture  I  delivered  on  my  three  months'  trip 
across  the  country  in  191 6. 

'About  fourteen  years,"  I  answered. 

I  was  thinking  of  all  the  time  that  had  passed  during  which  ex- 
periences, tragic  and  stirring,  had  come  to  me  and  were  embodied 
therein. 

So  much  depended  on  this  speech;  the  women  of  leisure  must  be 
made  to  listen,  the  women  of  wealth  to  give,  the  women  of  influence 
to  protest.  Before  starting  April  1st,  I  tried  to  put  myself  in  their 
places  and  to  see  how  their  interests  and  imaginations  could  most  ef- 
fectively be  excited,  how  the  pictures  which  had  so  unceasingly  be- 
set me  could  best  be  brought  to  their  minds.  I  felt  certain  that  if  I 
could  do  this,  they  would  do  the  rest. 

But  the  anxiety  that  went  into  the  composition  of  the  speech  was 
as  nothing  to  the  agonies  with  which  I  contemplated  its  utterance. 
My  mother  used  to  say  a  decent  woman  only  had  her  name  in  the 
papers  three  times  during  her  life — when  she  was  born,  when  she 
married,  and  when  she  died.  Although  by  nature  I  shrank  from 
publicity,  the  kind  of  work  I  had  undertaken  did  not  allow  me  to 
shirk  it — but  I  was  frightened  to  death.  Hoping  that  practice  would 
give  me  greater  confidence,  I  used  to  climb  to  the  roof  of  the  Lex- 
ington Avenue  hotel  where  I  was  staying  and  recite,  my  voice  go- 

192 


HEAR    ME    FOR    MY    CAUSE  1 93 

ing  out  over  the  house  tops  and  echoing  timidly  among  the  chimney 
pots. 

I  repeated  the  lecture  over  and  over  to  myself  before  I  tried  it 
on  a  small  audience  in  New  Rochelle.  I  did  not  dare  cut  myself  adrift 
from  my  notes;  I  had  to  read  it,  and  when  I  had  finished,  did  not 
feel  it  had  been  very  successful.  By  the  time  I  reached  Pittsburgh, 
my  first  large  city,  I  had  memorized  every  period  and  comma,  but 
I  was  still  scared  that  if  I  lost  one  word  I  would  not  know  what 
the  next  was.  I  closed  my  eyes  and  spoke  in  fear  and  trembling.  The 
laborers  and  social  workers  who  crowded  the  big  theater  responded 
so  enthusiastically  that  I  was  at  least  sure  their  attention  had  been 
held  by  its  content. 

It  was  interesting  to  watch  the  pencils  come  out  at  the  announce- 
ment that  there  were  specifically  seven  circumstances  under  which 
birth  control  should  be  practiced. 

First,  when  either  husband  or  wife  had  a  transmissible  disease, 
such  as  epilepsy,  insanity,  or  syphilis.  • 

Second,  when  the  wife  suffered  from  a  temporary  affection  of  the 
lungs,  heart,  or  kidneys,  the  cure  of  which  might  be  retarded  through 
pregnancy.    . 

Third,  when  parents,  though  normal,  had  subnormal  children. 

Fourth,  when  husband  or  wife  were  adolescent.  Early  marriage, 
yes,  but  parenthood  should  be  postponed  until  after  the  twenty-third 
year  of  the  boy  and  the  twenty-second  of  the  girl. 

Fifth,  when  the  earning  capacity  of  the  father  was  inadequate;  no 
man  had  the  right  to  have  ten  children  if  he  could  not  provide  for 
more  than  two.  The  standards  of  living  desirable  had  to  be  con- 
sidered; it  was  one  thing  if  the  parents  were  planning  college  edu- 
cations for  their  offspring,  and  another  if  they  wanted  them  simply 
for  industrial  exploitation. 

Sixth,  births  should  be  spaced  between  two  and  three  years,  ac- 
cording to  the  mother's  health. 

All  the  foregoing  were  self-evident  from  the  physiological  and 
economic  points  of  view.  But  I  wished  to  introduce  a  final  reason 
which  seemed  equally  important  to  me,  though  it  had  not  been  taken 
into  account  statistically. 

Seventh,  every  young  couple  should  practice  birth  control  for  at 


194  MARGARET    SANGER 

least  one  year  after  marriage  and  two  as  a  rule,  because  this  period 
should  be  one  of  physical,  mental,  financial,  and  spiritual  adjustment 
in  which  they  could  grow  together,  cement  the  bonds  of  attraction, 
and  plan  for  their  children. 

Like  other  professions,  motherhood  should  serve  its  apprentice- 
ship. It  was  not  good  sense  to  expect  fruit  from  buds — yet  if  woman- 
hood flowered  from  girlhood  too  soon  it  did  not  have  a  chance  to 
be  a  thing  in  itself.  I  offered  a  hypothetical  case.  Suppose  two 
young  people  started  out  in  marriage,  ignorant  of  its  implications 
and  possibilities.  The  bride,  utterly  unprepared,  returned  pregnant 
from  the  honeymoon — headaches,  nausea,  backache,  general  fatigue, 
and  depression.  The  romantic  lover  never  knew  that  girl  as  a 
woman ;  she  forever  after  appeared  to  him  only  as  a  mother.  Under 
such  circumstances  marriage  seldom  had  an  opportunity  to  become 
as  fine  an  instrument  for  development  as  it  might  have  been. 

I  wanted  the  world  made  safe  for  babies.  From  a  government  sur- 
vey significant  conclusions  had  emerged  as  to  how  many  babies 
lived  to  celebrate  their  first  birthday.  These  were  based  largely  on 
three  factors:  the  father's  wage — as  it  went  down,  more  died,  and 
as  it  rose,  more  survived;  the  spacing  of  births — when  children 
were  born  one  year  apart,  more  died  than  if  the  mother  were  al- 
lowed a  two-  or  three-year  interval  between  pregnancies;  the  rela- 
tive position  in  the  family — of  the  number  of  second-born,  thirty- 
two  out  of  every  hundred  died  annually,  and  so  on  progressively 
until  among  those  who  were  born  twelfth,  the  rate  was  sixty  out 
of  a  hundred. 

I  claimed  that  sympathy  and  charity  extended  towards  babies 
were  not  enough,  that  milk  stations  were  not  enough,  that  maternity 
centers  were  not  enough,  and  that  protective  legislation  in  the  form 
of  child  labor  laws  was  not  enough.  With  all  the  force  I  could  muster 
I  insisted  that  the  first  right  of  a  child  was  to  be  wanted,  to  be 
desired,  to  be  planned  for  with  an  intensity  of  love  that  gave  it  its 
title  to  being.  It  should  be  wanted  by  both  parents,  but  especially  by 
the  mother  who  was  to  carry  it,  nourish  it,  and  perhaps  influence  its 
life  by  her  thoughts,  her  passions,  her  rebellions,  her  yearnings. 

So  that  all  babies  born  could  be  assured  sound  bodies  and  sound 
minds,  I  suggested  in  lighter  vein  that  the  Government  issue  pass- 


HEAR   ME   FOR   MY    CAUSE  1 95 

ports  for  them,  calling  the  attention  of  the  audience  to  the  fact  that 
adults  in  this  country  would  never  think  of  going  abroad  without  a 
government  guarantee  to  ensure  them  safe  passage  and  preservation 
against  harm  or  ill-treatment.  If  this  were  necessary  for  grown  per- 
sons journeying  into  a  foreign  land,  how  much  more  important 
it  was  to  protect  children  who  were  to  enter  into  this  strange  and  in- 
secure new  world. 

I  reminded  them  also  that  no  one  would  consider  embarking  in  the 
medical  or  legal  profession  without  due  preparation.  Even  cooks  or 
laundresses  scarcely  applied  for  positions  without  experience  prov- 
ing they  were  qualified  to  undertake  their  tasks.  But  anyone,  no 
matter  how  ignorant,  how  diseased  mentally  or  physically,  how 
lacking  in  all  knowledge  of  children,  seemed  to  consider  he  or  she 
had  the  right  to  become  a  parent. 

In  the  same  tone  I  proposed  a  bureau  of  application  for  the  un- 
born. I  pictured  a  married  couple  coming  here  for  a  baby  as  though 
for  a  chambermaid,  chauffeur,  or  gardener.  The  unborn  child  took 
a  look  at  his  prospective  parents  and  propounded  a  few  questions 
such  as  any  employee  has  the  right  to  ask  of  his  employer. 

To  his  father  the  unborn  child  said,  "Do  you  happen  to  have  a 
health  certificate?" 

And  to  the  mother,  "How  are  your  nerves?  What  do  you  know 
about  babies?  What  kind  of  a  table  do  you  set?" 

And  to  both  of  them,  "What  are  your  plans  for  bringing  me  up  ? 
Am  I  to  spend  my  childhood  days  in  factories  or  mills,  or  am  I  to 
have  the  opportunities  offered  by  an  intelligent,  healthy,  family  life  ? 
I  am  unusually  gifted,"  the  baby  might  add.  "Do  you  know  how 
to  develop  my  talents?  What  sort  of  society  have  you  made  for  the 
fullest  expression  of  my  genius?" 

All  babies  came  back  to  the  practical  question,  "How  many  chil- 
dren have  you  already?" 

"Eight." 

"How  much  are  you  earning?" 

"Ten  dollars  a  week." 

"And  living  in  two  rooms,  you  say?  No,  thank  you.  Next,  please." 

I  was  trying  to  make  people  think  in  order  that  they  might  act. 
My  part  was  to  give  them  the  facts  and  then,  when  they  asked  what 


196  MARGARET    SANGER 

they  should  do  about  them,  suggest  concrete  programs  for  leagues 
and  clinics.  Many  women  had  far  more  executive  and  administra- 
tive experience  than  I,  and  I  still  expected  them  to  carry  on  where 
I  left  off  so  that  I  might  be  free  to  return  to  Europe. 

My  hopes  seemed  well-founded  when  many  of  the  Pittsburgh 
audience  waited  afterward  to  request  help  in  organizing  themselves. 
Thus  the  first  state  birth  control  league  was  formed.  This  and  all 
subsequent  ones  I  referred  to  Mrs.  Dennett's  National  Birth  Con- 
trol League  to  be  under  its  future  direction., 

!  That  meeting  had  been  held  under  the  sponsorship  of  Mrs.  Enoch 
Raugh,  a  philanthropist  of  great  courage.  In  the  early  days  almost 
everywhere  I  went'the  subject  of  birth  control  was  one  likely  to  make 
conspicuous  those  who  identified  themselves  with  it.  Average  well- 
to-do  persons  hesitated  except  for  the  Jewish  leaders  in  civic  affairs, 
who,  as  soon  as  they  were  personally  convinced,  showed  no  reluctance 
in  aligning  themselves  publicly:. 

Not  so  did  Chicago  respond.  Some  members  of  the  powerful 
Women's  City  Club  had  privately  asked  me  to  speak,  but  when  the 
matter  was  brought  up  before  their  board,  the  unofficial  invitation 
was  officially  canceled.  Here  again  were  conservatives  enjoying  the 
benefits  of  birth  control  for  themselves  but  unwilling  to  endorse 
it  for  the  less  fortunate  of  their  sex.  When  they  did  not  listen,  I 
tried  to  reach  the  women  of  the  stockyards  directly. 

So  many  hundreds  of  letters  had  come  to  me — not  only  in  Eng- 
lish, but  also  in  Hungarian,  Bohemian,  Polish,  and  Yiddish — clam- 
oring for  information,  that  I  had  every  reason  to  suppose  what  I 
had  to  say  was  going  to  be  welcome  on  Halsted  Street.  I  was  in- 
credulous when  I  met  an  unforeseen  resistance. 

Hull  House  and  similar  settlements  had  been  established  to  help 
the  poor  to  help  themselves.  But  I  found  that  although  social 
agencies  had  originally  striven  to  win  confidence  by  opening  milk 
stations  and  day  nurseries,  this  aim  had  been  somewhat  obscured 
in  the  interests  of  sheer  efficiency.  Many  welfare  workers  had  come 
to  treat  individuals  merely  as  cases  to  be  cataloged,  arrogantly  pro- 
claiming they  knew  "what  was  best  for  the  poor";  a  type  had  de- 
veloped, and  those  who  belonged  to  it  were  lacking  in  human  sym- 
pathy. Instead  they  expanded  their  own  egos  through  domination. 


HEAR   ME   FOR   MY    CAUSE  1 97 

Their  desire  to  build  up  prestige  and  secure  a  position  of  importance 
in  the  community  had  formed  a  civic  barrier,  a  wall,  in  fact,  around 
the  stockyards  district,  preventing  any  new  concepts,  people,  or  or- 
ganizations from  coming  in  without  official  permission.  The  stock- 
yards women  were  literally  imprisoned  in  their  homes  from  ad- 
vanced ideas  unless  they  went  out  into  other  sections  of  the  city. 

Because  this  ridiculous  situation  had  arisen  in  Chicago,  no  hall 
could  be  had  in  the  immediate  neighborhood. ,  I  could  have  held  no 
meeting  there  had  it  not  been  for  Fania  Mindell,  one  of  the  many 
idealists  of  that  time  who  threw  themselves  into  the  fight  for  the 
oppressed  as  an  aftermath  of  their  own  sufferings  and  repressions 
in  Russia.  ,She  had  a  devoted  and  self-sacrificing  nature  which  made 
her  work,  slave,  toil  for  the  love  of  doing  it.  She  made  all  the  ar- 
rangements, producing  an  audience  of  fifteen  hundred  from  the 
labor  and  stockyards  environs. 

i  These  first  lectures  in  Chicago  and  elsewhere  attracted  women  in 
swarms,  paying  their  twenty-five  cents  to  fill  the  auditoriums;  I 
remember  that  one  offered  her  wedding  ring  as  the  price  of  admis- 
sion, to  be  redeemed  on  pay  day.  They  brought  their  children,  and 
more  than  once  I  had  to  lift  my  voice  above  the  persistent  cooing 
and  gurgling  of  a  front-row  baby.  There  was  a  natural  understand- 
ing between  infants.  If  one  were  given  a  bottle,  another  began  to 
cry.  A  third  in  the  backjoined  the  chorus,  or  a  small  boy  on  the  side 
aisle  whispered  shrilly,  "I  wantta  go  home!"  I  just  ached  to  see  those 
many  babies,  because  I  knew  what  their  mothers  had  come  for — 
definite  help  to  stop  having  more — and  it  could  not  be  given  them. 

Often  at  these  meetings  I  saw  some  woman  sitting  down  near 
the  platform  holding  a  bunch  of  wild  flowers,  daisies,  Queen  Anne's 
lace,  or  butter-and-eggs,  waiting  to  present  me  with  the  little  bouquet, 
to  tell  me  that  since  she  had  received  my  pamphlet,  she  had  "kept  out 
of  trouble."  No  matter  how  phrased,  the  gratitude  was  genuine. 

Over  and  over  again  someone  popped  up  in  front  of  me,  and  ex- 
tended a  hand,  "I  used  to  subscribe  to  the  Woman  Rebel.  I  got  all 
your  pamphlets  from  England." 

When  I  asked,  "What's  your  name?"  with  the  answer,  like  a  flash, 
came  the  number  of  children  and  the  locality,  and  the  story  sent  me 
years  earlier.  And,  "Didn't  you  live  in  Des  Moines?"  I  continued. 


I98  MARGARET   SANGER 

Seldom  was  it  the  wrong  place.  In  this  way  I  came  across  dozens 
of  "friends"  who  had  been  among  the  original  two  thousand. 

I  was  advised  by  Dr.  Mabel  Ullrich  of  Minneapolis  not  to  go 
there  because  the  Twin  Cities  were  the  most  conservative  in  Amer- 
ica. "You  won't  get  six  people,"  she  prophesied. 

"Do  you  think  I'll  get  six?" 

"Perhaps." 
/"Then  I'll  go." 

nI  was  prepared  to  speak  wherever  it  was  possible,  regardless  of 
attendance.  Six  people,  properly  convinced,  usually  made  sixty  peo- 
ple think  before  very  long.  In  spite  of  Dr.  Ullrich's  warning,  hun- 
dreds of  chairs  had  to  be  brought  in  to  the  Minneapolis  Public  Li- 
brary to  take  care  of  the  overflow. 

People  were  frequently  surprised  at  the  size  of  my  audiences.  I 
should  have  been  surprised  had  it  been  the  other  way  about,  al- 
though I  did  not  like  too  many  present  because  the  subject  was  too 
intimate  for  great  numbers  in  large  halls.  All  came  because  birth 
control  touched  their  lives  deeply  and  vitally ;  they  listened  so  earnestly, 
so  intently  that  the  very  atmosphere  was  hushed  and  unnaturally 
quiet. 

Here  in  Minneapolis  arrived  a  telegram  from  Frederick  A. 
Blossom,  Ph.D.,  manager  of  the  Associated  Charities  of  Cleveland, 
whom  I  had  met  there.  Would  I  speak  at  the  National  Social  Work- 
ers' Conference  then  being  held  in  Indianapolis?  He  could  not  get 
me  placed  on  the  program,  but  the  two  subjects  that  were  currently 
arousing  considerable  interest  were  the  prison  reforms  instituted 
by  Thomas  Mott  Osborne  at  Sing  Sing,  and  birth  control.  He 
believed  it  was  worth  my  while  to  come. 

Since  I  had  nearly  a  week  before  my  scheduled  meeting  in  St. 
Louis,  the  time  fitted  in  very  nicely  and  I  seized  the  occasion.  I  did 
not  expect  definite  action,  but  I  did  yearn  to  arouse  dissatisfaction 
over  smoothing  off  the  top,  to  say  to  these  social  workers  plodding 
along  in  their  organizations  that  I  thought  their  accomplishments 
were  temporary,  and  that  charity  was  only  a  feather  duster  flicking 
from  the  surface  particles  which  merely  settled  somewhere  else. 
They  could  never  attain  their  ideal  of  eliminating  the  problems  of 


HEAR   ME   FOR   MY   CAUSE  1 99 

the  masses  until  the  breeding  of  the  unending  stream  of  unwanted 
babies  was  stopped. 

Blossom,  polished,  educated,  and  clever,  had  a  charming  and 
disarming  personality,  and  an  ability  far  above  the  average.  Part 
of  his  work  had  been  to  cultivate  the  rich,  and  in  this  he  had  been 
eminently  success  fut  because  he  was  so  suave,  never  waving  a  red 
flag  in  front  of  anybody's  nose  as  I  did;  my  flaming  Feminism 
speeches  had  scared  some  of  my  supporters  out  of  their  wits. 

This  master  manager  knew  exactly  what  to  do  and  how  to  go 
about  it.  Notices  were  posted  throughout  the  hotel  and  left  in  every 
delegate's  mail  box,  announcing  the  meeting  for  four  in  the  after- 
noon, the  only  hour  when  we  could  have  the  big  amphitheater.  Al- 
though round-table  discussions  were  going  on  at  the  same  time,  it 
was  jammed  to  the  doors;  people  were  sitting  on  the  platform  and 
on  window  sills  and  radiators. 

I  was  almost  startled  that  so  many  of  those  from  whom  I  hoped 
for  co-operation  should  turn  out  in  such  numbers.  Walter  Lippmann 
said,  "This  will  kick  the  football  of  birth  control  straight  across 
to  the  Pacific."  And,  indeed,  the  social  agents,  like  the  plumed 
darts  of  a  seeded  dandelion  puffed  into  the  air,  scattered  to  every 
quarter  of  the  country;  thereafter,  to  the  West  and  back  again,  I 
heard  echoes  of  the  meeting. 

During  the  previous  weeks  in  various  cities  it  had  been  hard  to 
be  alone  a  minute.  Women  with  the  inevitable  babies  kept  calling 
on  me  in  hotels  and  so  did  men  setting  out  to  their  jobs  early  in 
the  morning,  carrying  their  lunch  boxes.  I  was  so  mentally  weary 
with  strain  that  it  seemed  I  must  get  away  from  humanity  for  a 
little  while  if  I  were  to  retain  my  sanity.  Worst  of  all  was  the 
ever-present  loneliness  and  grief — the  apparition  of  Peggy  who 
wanted  me  to  recognize  she  had  gone  and  was  no  longer  here. 

I  slipped  into  St.  Louis  two  days  ahead  so  that  I  could  be  by 
myself,  registering  at  the  Hotel  Jefferson  and  asking  not  to  be  dis- 
turbed. But  the  telephone  rang  before  I  even  had  my  suitcase  un- 
packed; a  reporter  had  seen  my  name  at  the  desk  and  requested  an 
interview.  I  replied  I  could  not  give  it ;  I  was  not  in  St.  Louis  so  far 
as  he  was  concerned.  Saying  to  myself,  "Good,  I've  escaped  that," 


200  MARGARET    SANGER 

I  went  to  bed.  But  next  morning  a  ribbon  on  the  front  page  of  his 
paper  announced  I  was  "hiding"  in  the  city.  In  my  ignorance  I  had 
violated  the  etiquette  observed  by  welcoming  committees,  and  mine 
was  highly  indignant.  I  had  little  rest. 

Among  the  group  of  backers  was  Robert  Minor,  an  old  friend, 
formerly  an  outstanding  cartoonist  on  the  New  York  World,  who 
had  been  dropped  because  he  had  refused  to  draw  the  kind  of  pic- 
tures about  Germany  his  employers  wanted.  It  had  been  arranged 
that  I  was  to  have  the  Victoria  Theater  Sunday  night,  which  had 
already  been  paid  for  in  advance  so  that  the  meeting  could  be  free. 
However,  at  a  quarter  to  eight  when  we  arrived,  the  building  was 
in  total  darkness  and  the  doors  were  locked.  The  proprietor's  office 
was  closed;  he  was  not  at  home;  there  was  no  means  of  finding 
out  anything.  Actually,  he  had  temporarily  effaced  himself  because 
he  did  not  wish  to  admit  that  he  had  been  threatened  with  a  Catholic 
boycott  of  his  theater,  and  had  been  promised  protection  against  a 
possible  suit  for  breach  of  contract. 

At  least  two  thousand  people  had  gathered  and  were  filling  the 
air  with  catcalls,  hisses,  hurrahs,  cries  of  "the  Catholics  run  the 
town!  Break  in  the  door!"  Minor  urged  me  to  stand  up  in  the  car 
and  give  my  speech,  but  without  its  proper  setting  I  was  lost;  here 
was  a  type  of  battle  needing  an  experienced  campaigner.  Although  I 
did  not  feel  adequate,  I  began,  but  my  voice  could  not  surmount 
the  uproar. 

I  was  barely  under  way  when  a  police  sergeant  reached  up  and 
seized  my  arm.  "Here  now,  you'll  have  to  come  down.  You  can't 
talk  here." 

"Speech !  Speech !"  yelled  the  crowd.  "Go  on." 

But  the  owner  of  the  car,  to  my  great  relief,  started  his  engine. 
I  sat  back  in  the  seat  with  a  thump  and  off  we  went. 

The  incident  had  repercussions.  The  Men's  City  Club,  regarding 
the  event  as  a  blot  on  the  fair  name  of  the  town,  asked  me  to  speak 
at  their  luncheon  the  next  day,  and  I  promised  to  wait  over.  Al- 
though forty  Catholics  then  resigned  in  a  body,  St.  Louis  would  not 
be  coerced,  and  more  than  a  hundred  new  members  joined  immedi- 
ately. 

William   Marion   Reedy,   owner   and  publisher  of  the   famous 


HEAR   ME   FOR   MY    CAUSE  201 

Reedy 's  Mirror,  had  been  at  the  closed  theater.  He  printed  a  car- 
toon showing  the  Capitol  of  the  United  States  with  a  papal  crown 
on  it,  stated  editorially  that  the  Pope  was  now  dictating  to  America 
what  it  should  hear  and  think,  and  emphasized  the  consequent  dan- 
gers to  the  country  if  any  religious  group  were  allowed  such  domina- 
tion. "No  idea  let  loose  in  the  world  has  ever  been  suppressed.  Ideas 
cannot  be  jailed  in  oubliettes/'  was  his  peroration. 

After  I  had  left  the  Middle  West  and  reached  the  Rocky  Moun- 
tains the  atmosphere  changed.  I  was  struck  even  by  the  attitude  of 
the  bellboys  and  waiters  at  the  Brown  Palace  Hotel  in  Denver.  In 
New  York  you  were  served  by  trained  foreign  men  and  boys — 
Italian  and  French.  Here  they  were  American-born,  blue-eyed,  fair- 
complexioned,  strong- jawed.  Without  bowing  or  obsequiousness 
they  brought  your  food  and  carried  your  bags  as  if  doing  you  a 
favor.  You  hesitated  to  give  them  a  tip,  though,  as  a  matter  of  fact, 
they  never  refused  it. 

I  loved  Denver  itself.  It  seemed  to  me  the  women  there  were  the 
most  beautiful  I  had  seen — fresh,  charming,  alive.  They  had  long  had 
the  vote  and  used  it  effectively.  Because  they  believed  in  Judge  Ben 
Lindsey's  juvenile  court,  they  had  kept  him  in  office  in  spite  of 
the  concerted  antagonism  of  picturesque  but  corrupt  politicians. 

Although  Judge  Lindsey  had  bitter  enemies  in  exalted  places,  he 
had  loyal  friends  also.  When  Theodore  Roosevelt  had  stopped  there 
in  1 91 2  on  his  Western  Swing,  the  Judge  was  facing  opposition. 
The  city  fathers  did  not  want  to  include  him  as  a  substantial  citizen 
on  their  platform  committee  of  welcome.  Roosevelt  peered  vainly 
about  among  all  these  bankers  and  business  men.  "Where's  Ben 
Lindsey?"  he  asked. 

"We  don't  talk  about  him  around  here." 

"Don't  we?  Well,  he's  a  friend  of  mine.  I  shan't  say  a  word  until 
Ben  Lindsey  comes  and  sits  on  this  platform  beside  me." 

Nor  would  he  speak  until  Lindsey  arrived ;  everybody  had  to  wait. 

It  was  a  high  point  for  me  at  this  time,  so  soon  after  my  own 
court  appearance,  to  have  Judge  Lindsey  preside  at  my  meeting.  For- 
merly my  listeners,  with  the  exception  of  Indianapolis,  had  been 
chiefly  of  the  working  class.  Here  they  were  wives  of  doctors,  law- 
yers, petty  officials,  members  of  clubs. 


202  MARGARET   SANGER 

I  was  more  than  delighted  to  have  an  audience  which  had  the 
power  to  change  public  opinion.  The  "submerged  tenth"  had  no  need 
of  theories  nor  the  proof  of  the  advantages  of  family  limitation; 
they  were  the  proof — the  living  example  of  the  need.  It  was  vitally 
important  to  have  reflective  hearers  who  not  only  themselves  used 
contraceptives,  but  who  advanced  thought  through  literature,  dis- 
cussions, and  papers.  To  them  I  was  telling  the  story  of  those  mil- 
lions who  could  not  come,  and  trying  to  relate  it  as  I  knew  it  to  be 
true.  Stimulating  them  offered  the  best  possibility  of  getting  some- 
thing done. 

Judge  Lindsey  invited  me  to  sit  on  the  bench  with  him  the  next 
morning,  and  I  watched  enthralled  the  way  he  handled  his  cases. 
The  familiar  court  method  was  punishment,  and  the  more  punish- 
ment the  better.  But  he  operated  on  the  new  psychology.  For  in- 
stance, he  attempted  to  inculcate  a  sense  of  responsibility  in  one  boy 
who  had  disobeyed  his  mother  and  run  away  from  school,  by  show- 
ing him  his  indebtedness  to  her,  how  he  should  be  helping  rather  than 
causing  her  grief. 

The  same  tactics  were  employed  in  the  case  of  Joseph,  charged 
with  assault  on  his  wife,  Nelly,  who  stood  silently  in  the  back- 
ground, shawl  over  her  head.  Lindsey  read  the  evidence,  then  said, 
"Joseph,  come  over  here." 

'Joseph  stepped  nearer,  appearing  somewhat  guilty,  as  men  of  his 
status  usually  did  when  they  came  into  court. 

"What's  this  I  hear  about  you?  Why  did  you  strike  Nelly?" 

"She  made  me  mad,"  Joseph  mumbled. 

"Joseph,  turn  your  head  and  look  at  your  wife.  Look  at  her! 
Look! — thin,  pale,  weak,  and  you  a  big  strong  man  striking  that 
delicate  little  woman.  Aren't  you  ashamed  of  yourself  to  beat  Nelly? 
You  who  promised  to  love,  honor,  and  protect  her?" 

The  reprimanding  lasted  fully  two  minutes.  Finally  tears  began 
to  spring  from  Nelly's  eyes  and  to  run  down  her  face.  She  moved 
forward,  took  Joseph  by  the  hand,  and  said,  "Oh,  he's  not  so  bad, 
Judge."  Joseph  then  embraced  her.  Instead  of  punishing  him,  which 
would  in  effect  have  also  been  punishing  Nelly,  Judge  Lindsey  put 
him  on  parole  to  report  back  in  two  months'  time,  and  husband  and 
wife  went  out  arm  in  arm. 


HEAR   ME   FOR   MY    CAUSE  203 

One  of  the  hardest  things  for  a  judge  in  a  lower  court  to  combat 
is  the  prejudice  of  the  police  against  those  who  already  have  records. 
Judge  Lindsey,  when  a  case  came  up  before  him,  never  took  the 
word  of  the  ward  heelers,  but  had  his  own  secretary,  employed  and 
paid  by  him,  go  to  the  home  and  investigate,  and  he  held  the  case 
until  this  had  been  done.  But  I  thought  then  that  either  Judge  Lind- 
sey was  heading  straight  for  trouble,  or  Denver  had  a  kingdom  of 
its  own  where  freedom  reigned. 

A  similar  attitude  of  liberality  prevailed  on  the  far  side  of  the 
Rockies.  In  many  places  where  I  had  previously  spoken,  policemen 
had  been  stationed  at  the  doors.  Occasionally  they  had  even  come 
to  the  hotel  to  read  my  speech,  as  at  St.  Louis  and  Indianapolis.  But 
in  Los  Angeles  officials  of  all  the  city,  even  the  representatives  of 
the  women's  police  division,  met  me  at  the  station  or  called  on  me 
in  a  friendly  way. 

I  was  still  as  terrified  of  speaking  as  in  the  beginning;  I  used  to 
wake  up  early  in  the  morning,  sometimes  before  it  was  light,  and 
feel  a  ghastly  depression  coming  over  me.  I  realized  it  was  the  im- 
pending lecture  which  was  so  affecting  me,  and  I  waited  in  trepida- 
tion for  the  hour.  My  physical  illness  did  not  grow  better  until  I 
was  on  my  feet  and  well  into  my  subject. 

Though  this  was  my  first  visit  to  the  West,  I  had  no  time  for 
scenery.  Whenever  possible  I  traveled  by  night  and  arrived  during 
the  day,  and  by  this  stage  of  my  trip  I  was  seemingly  always  tired. 
The  dead  grind  went  on  and  on,  an  endless  succession  of  getting  off 
trains,  introductions,  talking  to  committees,  pouring  yourself  out — 
and  nothing  happening.  Physically  and  psychically  it  was  one  of  the 
lowest  periods  of  my  life. 

Someone  in  San  Francisco  did  a  lovely  thing  for  me.  I  never 
knew  who  she  was,  but  at  the  end  of  one  meeting  she  picked  me  up 
in  her  car  and  swept  me  away  into  a  forest  of  huge,  tall  trees  where 
the  sun  broke  through.  There  she  left  me  for  fifteen  minutes  in  the 
midst  of  a  cathedral  of  great  evergreens  with  the  sky  overhead 
and  myself  alone.  I  have  never  forgotten  the  peace  and  quiet. 

I  found  the  West  Coast  a  lively  place.  Ideas  were  being  con- 
stantly thrashed  out.  Every  discourse  had  a  challenging  reception. 
Emma  Goldman  had  been  there  year  after  year  and  had  stirred  peo- 


204  MARGARET   SANGER 

pie  to  dare  express  themselves.  All  sorts  of  individuals  catechized 
you,  and  if  you  were  not  well  grounded  in  your  subject  you  were 
quickly  made  aware  of  your  ignorance.  The  Wobblies  spent  hours 
in  libraries,  not  only  keeping  warm,  but  trying  to  find  points  on 
which  to  attack  the  next  lecturer  who  should  come  to  town.  Often 
those  most  eager  were  considered  cranks — on  diet,  free  trade,  single 
tax,  and  free  silver — so  familiar  that  their  rising  was  hailed  with 
groans.  I  never  minded  having  questions  asked,  though  everything 
I  knew  was  questioned.  It  was  as  well  for  me  that,  in  addition  to 
my  Malthus,  I  knew  my  Schopenhauer  and  Nietzsche,  my  Henry 
George,  Marx,  and  Kropotkin.  It  seems  to  me  that  today  the  tone 
of  audiences  has  deteriorated;  queries  rarely  have  the  same  intel- 
lectual grasp  behind  them. 

.  My  welcome  at  Portland  was  delightful.  The  sixty-year-old  poet, 
C.  E.  S.  Wood,  dapper  and  gracious,  made  a  practice  of  greet- 
ing personally  women  speakers,  dedicating  poems  to  them  on  their 
arrival,  and  sending  bowers  of  flowers  to  their  hotel  rooms.  The 
City  of  Roses  did  much  to  entertain  its  visitors. 

Here  I  was  invited  by  a  church  to  address  its  congregation  fol- 
lowing the  evening  service.  I  had  not  been  very  well  in  the  after- 
noon, but  I  promised  over  the  telephone  to  be  there  if  I  could.  I 
was  late  and  the  meeting  had  already  begun.  As  I  slipped  in  at  the 
rear  I  heard  the  chairman  refer  to  me  as  a  Joan  of  Arc.  Entirely 
too  many  Joans  of  Arc  were  floating  about  in  those  days.  Not  wish- 
ing to  be  a  disappointment  I  turned  right  around  and  walked  back 
to  the  hotel.  Since  no  one  had  ever  seen  me,  both  my  entrance  and 
exit  went  unremarked. 

I  admired  robust,  vital  women;  they  appeared  so  efficient,  and  I 
regretted  the  fact  that  I  did  not  give  the  same  impression.  I  felt 
that  way,  but  could  not  help  resembling,  as  someone  phrased  it,  "a 
hungry  flower  drooping  in  the  rain."  If  I  were  in  a  room  with 
ten  people  and  somebody  came  in  who  expected  me  to  be  present, 
she  invariably  approached  the  biggest  woman  and  addressed  her, 
"How  do  you  do,  Mrs.  Sanger?"  For  a  brief  while  I  tried  to  make 
myself  seem  more  competent-looking  by  wearing  severe  suits,  but 
this  phase  did  not  last ;  for  one  thing,  effective  simplicity  cost  money 
and  I  did  not  have  enough  to  be  really  well-tailored.  However,  the 


HEAR    ME    FOR    MY    CAUSE  205 

anonymity  due  to  my  appearance  was,  on  the  whole,  fortunate.  I 
was  always  able  to  go  along  any  street,  into  any  restaurant  or  shop, 
and  seldom  be  identified,  and  this  made  it  possible  for  me  to  main- 
tain a  relatively  private  life. 

A  dinner  was  given  at  Portland;  the  chairman,  who  had  seen 
Susan  B.  Anthony  and  many  other  women  with  causes  come  and 
go,  made  a  short  speech  of  introduction.  I  rarely  remember  what 
people  say  on  such  occasions,  but  one  of  her  statements  has  remained 
in  my  mind.  "I  would  like  to  see  Margaret  Sanger  again  after  ten 
years.  Most  movements  either  break  you  or  develop  the  'public 
figure'  type  of  face  which  has  become  hard  and  set  through  long 
and  furious  battling.  But  her  cause  is  different  from  any  other  I 
have  ever  known.  I  should  like  to  see  how  she  comes  out  of  it." 

I  have  thought  of  this  many  times — how,  if  the  cause  is  not  great 
enough  to  lift  you  outside  yourself,  you  can  be  driven  to  the  point 
of  bitterness  by  public  apathy  and,  within  your  own  circle,  by  the 
petty  prides  and  jealousies  of  little  egos  which  clamor  for  attention 
and  approbation. 

One  of  the  first  persons  I  met  in  the  city  was  Dr.  Marie  Equi,  of 
Italian  ancestry  and  Latin  fire.  Definitely,  she  was  an  individualist 
and  a  rugged  one.  Her  strong,  large  body  could  stand  miles  and 
miles  on  horseback  night  or  day.  She  had  been  brought  up  in  the 
pioneer  era  when  medical  work  was  genuine  service.  If  cowboys  or 
Indians  were  in  fights,  difficulties,  jail,  Dr.  Equi  was  always  on 
hand  to  speak  a  good  word  for  them. 

[  It  was  in  Portland  that  I  realized  Family  Limitation,  which  had 
been  crudely  and  hurriedly  written  in  1914,  needed  revising.  The 
working  women  to  whom  it  was  addressed  needed  the  facts.  It  had 
served  its  purpose  in  its  unpolished  state,  but  the  time  had  now  come 
to  reach  the  middle  classes,  for  whom  it  required  a  slightly  more  pro- 
fessional tone.  Dr.  Equi  gave  me  genuine  assistance  in  this  matter. 

The  wider  the  distribution  of  the  pamphlet,  the  happier  I  was. 
Since  it  had  not  been  copyrighted,  anybody  who  wanted  to  could 
reprint  as  many  as  he  wished,  and  I.W.W.  lumberjacks,  for  ex- 
ample, transients  without  families  who  moved  to  California  for  the 
crop  harvesting  in  the  summer,  often  thus  provided  themselves  with 
a  little  extra  money  as  they  journeyed  from  place  to  place.  When 


206  MARGARET    SANGER 

they  unrolled  the  blankets  draped  over  their  shoulders  out  dropped 
a  half-dozen  or  so  pamphlets. 

An  automobile  mechanic  of  Portland  had  made  one  of  these  re- 
prints and  asked  me  whether  he  could  sell  it  at  my  next  meeting. 
I  myself  had  never  distributed  Family  Limitation  publicly,  but  if 
any  local  people  wanted  to  do  so,  I  had  no  objection.  Accordingly  the 
mechanic  and  two  of  his  friends  sold  copies  and  were  arrested.  Their 
trial  was  postponed  so  that  I  could  deliver  my  proposed  lectures 
in  Seattle  and  Spokane. 

When  these  were  over  I  came  back  to  serve  as  a  witness,  and  at 
another  meeting  held  the  night  preceding  the  trial  four  more  of 
us  were  arrested,  Dr.  Equi,  two  Englishwomen,  and  myself.  I  was 
tremendously  gratified  by  seeing  women  for  the  first  time  come  out 
openly  with  courage ;  over  a  hundred  followed  us  through  the  streets 
to  the  jail  asking  to  be  "let  in  too.  We  also  have  broken  the  law." 

The  city  jail  was  nice  and  clean  and  warm.  The  girls,  who  were 
not  locked  in  cells,  scampered  around  talking  over  their  troubles  and 
complaints  with  Dr.  Equi,  and  receiving  condolence  and  wholesome 
advice  in  return. 

The  seven  of  us  were  tried  together  the  next  day.  Two  lawyers 
took  upon  themselves  the  responsibility  of  defending  us,  and  they 
were  splendid.  We  were  all  found  guilty.  The  men  were  fined  ten 
dollars,  which  the  Judge  said  they  need  not  pay ;  the  women  were  not 
fined  at  all. 

The  papers  made  a  great  to-do  about  the  affair  but  it  was  not  a 
type  of /publicity  of  my  choosing  and  did  little  to  bring  the  goal 
nearer.  \The  year  191 6  was  filled  with  such  turmoil,  some  of  it  use- 
ful, some  not. ,  The  ferment  was  working  violently.  Everybody  be- 
gan starting  things  here  and  there.  Many  radicals,  some  of  whom 
I  did  not  even  know,  were  distributing  leaflets,  getting  themselves 
arrested  and  jailed.  Meetings  were  being  held  in  New  York  on  street 
corners,  at  Union  Square,  Madison  Square. 

You  had  to  keep  a  steady  head,  to  be  about  your  business,  to  make 
careful  decisions,  to  waste  the  least  possible  time  on  trivialities;  it 
was  always  a  problem  to  prevent  emotional  scatter-brains  from  dis- 
turbing the  clear  flow  of  the  stream.  The  public,  quite  naturally, 


HEAR   ME   FOR    MY    CAUSE  207 

could  not  be  expected  to  distinguish  between  purposeful  activities 
and  any  others  carried  on  in  the  name  of  the  movement. 

Emma  Goldman  and  her  campaign  manager,  Ben  Reitman,  be- 
latedly advocated  birth  control,  not  to  further  it  but  strategically  to 
utilize  in  their  own  program  of  anarchism  the  publicity  value  it 
had  achieved.  Earlier  she  had  made  me  feel  she  considered  it  unim- 
portant in  the  class  struggle.  Suddenly,  when  in  1916  it  had  demon- 
strated the  fact  that  it  was  important,  she  delivered  a  lecture  on  the 
subject,  was  arrested,  and  sentenced  to  ten  days. 

Ben  Reitman,  who  used  to  go  up  and  down  the  aisles  at  meetings 
shouting  out  Emma  "Goldman's  Mother  Earth  in  a  voice  that  never 
needed  a  megaphone,  was  also  arrested  when  the  police  found  on 
the  table  of  her  lecture  hall  in  Rochester  several  books  on  birth 
control.  One  of  these  was  by  Dr.  Robinson,  who  had  hastily  pub- 
lished a  volume  purporting  to  give  contraceptive  information.  The 
unwary  purchaser  discovered  when  he  came  to  the  section  supposed 
to  give  him  the  facts  for  which  he  had  paid  his  money  that  the  pages 
were  blank  and  empty. 

(  Of  far  greater  interest  to  me  was  the  decision  of  Jessie  Ashley, 
Ida  Rauh,  who  was  Max  Eastman's  wife,  and  Bolton  Hall,  a  leader 
in  the  single  tax  movement,  to  make  test  cases  on  the  grounds  that 
the  denial  of  contraceptive  information  to  women  whose  health 
might  be  endangered  by  pregnancy  was  unconstitutional  since  the 
Constitution  guaranteed  each  individual  the  right  to  liberty.)  These 
three  had  themselves  arrested  on  birth  control  charges.  They  were 
all  three  convicted  and  given  a  choice  of  fines  or  terms  in  prison. 
They  paid  the  former,  announcing  that  they  would  appeal,  but,  most 
unfortunately,  as  it  turned  out  later,  they  did  not  carry  through  their 
intentions. 

A  sympathetic  thing  if  not  a  wise  one  was  being  done  by  a  young 
man  in  Boston  named  Van  Kleek  Allison,  who  started  handing  out 
leaflets  to  workers  as  they  emerged  from  factories.  Early  in  the 
summer  he  gave  one  to  a  police  decoy,  was  arrested  and  sentenced 
to  three  years.  Dear  old  Boston,  the  home  of  the  Puritan,  rose  in 
all  its  strength  and  held  a  huge  meeting  of  protest  on  his  behalf. 

This  was  the  occasion  of  my  first  heckling.  A  Jewish  convert  to 


208  MARGARET   SANGER 

Catholicism,  named  Goldstein,  began  belligerently  to  fling  questions 
at  me.  It  was  not  in  the  sense  of  trying  to  find  out  the  answers, 
but  as  though  he  had  them  wrapped  up  in  his  own  pocket  and  were 
merely  trying  to  trap  me,  and  he,  in  turn,  had  his  answers  ready 
for  mine.  But  after  my  Western  experiences  I  was  not  unprepared 
and  was  aided,  furthermore,  by  other  members  of  the  audience  who 
spoke  in  my  defense  when  he  became  almost  insulting. 

I  never  made  light  of  questioners  and  never  judged  any  question 
too  trivial  or  unworthy  of  an  honest  response.  I  believed  that  for 
each  person  who  had  the  courage  to  ask  there  must  be  at  least 
twenty-five  who  would  like  to  know,  and  I  have  never  assumed  any- 
one was  seeking  to  trick  me  into  giving  illegal  information,  even 
though  his  inquiry  might  appear  as  intended  to  confuse  me  or  be 
vindictively  thrust  at  me.  I  usually  replied,  "That's  an  interesting 
point.  I'm  glad  you  raised  it,"  and  then  proceeded  to  discuss  it  as 
best  I  could. 

Another  heckling  in  Albany  resulted  in  a  joyous  reunion.  Some- 
body in  the  audience  insisted  my  work  was  unnecessary.  I  would 
ordinarily  have  paid  no  attention,  not  considering  the  statement  at 
all  personal.  But  there  arose  a  lady,  wearing  a  high  lace  collar 
propped  up  with  whalebones,  and  a  hat  that  sat  flat  on  her  head,  a 
ghost  out  of  my  school-girl  days.  "I  am  acquainted  with  Margaret 
Sanger,"  she  stated.  "I  have  slept  with  her,  I  have  lived  with  her,  I 
have  worked  with  her,  I  have  delivered  her,  and  I  have  named  my 
baby  for  her."  Here  was  dear  old  Amelia  come  to  champion  me.  Her 
type  of  dress  had  remained  the  same  as  fifteen  years  before,  but  so 
had  her  loyalty  and  wit.  The  lecture  over,  we  went  back  together  to 
her  home  in  Schenectady;  she  hauled  out  from  the  attic  scrapbooks 
and  photographs  and  snapshots  taken  at  Claverack,  and  we  sat  on 
the  floor  and  rocked  with  laughter  until  three  in  the  morning. 

When  I  returned  to  New  York  after  my  long  trip  I  took  a  studio 
apartment  in  what  seemed  like  a  bit  of  old  Chelsea  on  Fourteenth 
Street  way  over  between  Seventh  and  Eighth  Avenues.  Gertrude 
Boyle,  the  sculptress,  had  the  one  below  me,  and  my  sister  Ethel  moved 
in  above.  Occasionally  father  came  down  from  Cape  Cod  to  spend 
some  time  with  us. 

Although  it  was  never  quite  warm  enough,  because  it  lacked  cen- 


HEAR   ME    FOR   MY   CAUSE  209 

tral  heating,  it  hardened  me  physically,  and  the  open  fireplaces, 
stoked  incessantly  by  expansive  and  voluble  Vito  Silecchia,  the  Ital- 
ian coal  vendor,  kept  the  air  fresh  and  clean.  The  lovely  high  ceil- 
ings, the  tall  windows,  and  the  broad  doors  flung  wide  between  the 
rooms,  gave  an  atmosphere  of  space,  and  the  marvelous  carved  wood- 
work was  a  joy.  The  windows  in  the  rear  were  draped  with  light 
yellow  curtains,  reflecting  an  illusory  glow  of  sunshine.  Above  one 
of  these  grew  a  Japanese  wistaria  vine ;  whenever  I  looked  up  I  saw 
this  little  bit  of  spring. 


Chapter  Seventeen 


FAITH  I  HAVE  BEEN  A  TRUANT  IN  THE  LAW 


"//  a  woman  grows  weary  and  at  last  dies  from  childbearing,  it 
matters  not.  Let  her  only  die  from  bearing;  she  is  there  to  do  it." 

MARTIN   LUTHER 


IN  the  fall  of  191 6  whoever  walked  along  the  corridor  of  the  top 
floor  of  104  Fifth  Avenue  could  have  seen  the  words  "Birth 
Control"  printed  on  the  door  leading  to  an  office  equipped  in 
business-like,  efficient  manner  with  files  and  card  catalogs.  Pre- 
siding over  it  was  Fred  Blossom,  the  perfect  representative.  He  had 
told  me  at  Cleveland  he  was  tired  of  ameliorative  charity  and,  want- 
ing to  do  something  more  significant,  had  offered  six  months 
for  this  work.  Now  indefatigably  he  wrote,  spoke,  made  friends, 
and,  most  important,  raised  money.  His  meals  were  limited  to  an 
apple  for  luncheon  and  a  sandwich  for  dinner;  he  seldom  left  the 
office  until  midnight. 

Like  a  vacuum  cleaner  Blossom  sucked  in  volunteers  from  near 
and  far  to  help  with  the  boxes  and  trunks  of  letters  which  had  come 
to  me  from  all  over  the  country — one  thousand  from  St.  Louis  alone. 
As  long  as  I  had  had  no  stenographic  aid  I  had  been  able  only  to 
open  and  read  them  and  put  them  sadly  away.  At  last  with  fifteen 
or  twenty  assistants  the  task  began  of  sorting  these  out  and  answer- 
ing them.  The  contents  almost  invariably  fell  into  certain  definite  cate- 
gories, and  I  instituted  a  system  so  that  such  and  such  a  paragraph 
could  be  sent  in  response  to  such  and  such  an  appeal. 

We  had  only  one  paid  stenographer — little  Anna  Lifshiz,  who 
soon  became  far  more  a  co-worker  than  a  secretary.  If  we  had  no 
money  in  the  bank  she  waited  for  her  salary  until  we  did.  When  I  met 

210 


FAITH   I   HAVE   BEEN   A   TRUANT   IN    THE   LAW  211 

Anna's  mother,  who  graced  her  hospitable  home  with  an  old  world 
dignity,  I  realized  that  her  daughter's  fine  character  had  been  directly- 
inherited.  Every  Christmas  I  used  to  receive  a  present  of  wine  and 
cakes  of  Mrs.  Lifshiz'  own  make,  and  Anna  always  said  when  she 
brought  them,  "My  mother  pr,ays  for  your  health,  your  happiness, 
and  that  you  will  keep  well."  ' '  * 

I  had  been  encouraged  by  the  interest  aroused  during  my  Western 
trip,  but  was  by  no  means  satisfied.  The  practical  idea  of  giving 
contraceptive  information  in  clinics  set  up  for  that  purpose  had 
seemed  to  meet  general  approval  everywhere.  Boston  at  this  time 
appeared  a  possible  place  to  begin.  Though  Allison  had  to  serve 
sixty  days  in  the  House  of  Correction  at  Deer  Island,  the  sum  total 
of  his  sensational  trial  had  been  good.  Before  his  arrest  there  had 
been  no  league  in  Massachusetts,  and  with  his  arrest  had  come 
publicity,  friends,  workers,  meetings,  letters,  interviews,  all  of  wide- 
spread educational  value. 

More  important  than  the  enthusiasm  which  had  been  stirred  up, 
the  best  legal  authorities  in  Boston  had  decided  that  contraceptive 
information  could  be  given  verbally  by  doctors  as  long  as  it  was  not 
advertised.  The  interpretation  to  be  put  on  advertising  held  up  the 
actual  opening  of  a  clinic.  The  old  spirit  was  there  to  wage  battle 
but  it  was  a  question  of  getting  leadership,  and  this  did  not  come 
about;  no  women  doctors  were  willing  to  take  the  risk.  If  the  citi- 
zens of  Massachusetts  had  then  seized  the  opportunity  to  broaden 
their  laws,  writers  and  speakers  might  now  have  more  freedom  in 
expressing  themselves. 

Blossom  soon  organized  the  New  York  State  Birth  Control 
League  to  change  the  state  law.  Beyond  introducing  a  bill  it  made 
little  headway  and  soon  expired.  It  was  just  one  of  those  many 
groups  that  met  and  talked  and  talked  and  did  nothing  effective. 

The  legislative  approach  seemed  to  me  a  slow  and  tortuous  method 
of  making  clinics  legal;  we  stood  a  better  and  quicker  chance  by 
securing  a  favorable  judicial  interpretation  through  challenging  the 
law  directly.  I  decided  to  open  a  clinic  in  New  York  City,  a  far  more 
difficult  proceeding  than  in  Boston.,  Section  1142  of  the  New  York 
statutes  was  definite:  No  one  could  give  contraceptive  information 
to  anyone  for  any  reason.  On  the  other  hand,  Section  1145  dis- 


212  MARGARET    SANGER 

tinctly  stated  that  physicians  could  give  prescriptions  to  prevent  con- 
ception for  the  cure  or  prevention  of  disease.  Two  attorneys  and 
several  doctors  assured  me  this  exception  referred  only  to  venereal 
disease.  In  that  case,  the  intent  was  to  protect  the  man,  which  could 
incidentally  promote  immorality  and  permit  promiscuity.  I  was  deal- 
ing with  marriage.  I  wanted  the  interpretation  to  be  broadened  into 
the  intent  to  protect  women  from  ill  health  as  the  result  of  excessive 
childbearing  and,  equally  important,  to  have  the  right  to  control  their 
own  destinies. 

To  change  this  interpretation  it  was  necessary  to  have  a  test  case. 
This,  in  turn,  required  my  keeping  strictly  to  the  letter  of  theylaw; 
that  is,  having  physicians  who  would  give  only  verbal  information 
for  the  prevention  of  disease.  But  the  women  doctors  who  had  pre- 
viously promised  to  do  this  now  refused.  I  wrote,  telephoned,  asked 
friends  to  ask  other  friends  to  help  find  someone.  None  was  will- 
ing to  enter  the  cause,  fearful  of  jeopardizing  her  private  practice 
and  of  running  the  risk  of  being  censured  by  her  profession;  she 
might  even  lose  her  license. 

They  had  before  them  the  example  of  Dr.  Mary  Halton  who  of 
all  the  women  I  have  known  has  perhaps  the  best  understanding  of 
the  hidden  secrets  of  the  heart.  She  has  never  reached  her  deserts, 
and  doubtless  never  will  have  the  honors  due  her,  though  she  has  an 
unknown  audience  who  love  her  not  only  because  she  has  done  some- 
thing directly  for  them  but  because  they  have  heard  of  what  she 
has  done  for  others.  She  has  what  to  my  mind  is  the  attitude  of  the 
real  physician;  that  it  is  not  enough  merely  to  cure  ailments — sur- 
roundings, heartaches,  privations  must  also  be  given  attention.  Her 
office  is  a  human  welfare  clinic  to  which  women  of  all  classes,  ages, 
nationalities  go  for  advice,  occasionally  without  even  return  car- 
fare. The  unmarried  ones,  who  in  asking  help  from  doctors  or  clinics 
seldom  admit  they  are  unmarried,  trust  so  deeply  in  Dr.  Mary  that 
they  unburden  themselves  freely. 

Dr.  Mary  had  previously  been  on  the  staff  of  the  Grosvenor  Hos- 
pital and  had  held  her  evening  clinic  there.  To  one  of  her  patients 
who  had  been  operated  on  for  glandular  tuberculosis  she  had  pre- 
scribed a  cervical  pessary.  When  a  few  evenings  later  the  woman 


FAITH    I   HAVE   BEEN   A    TRUANT   IN    THE   LAW  213 

had  come  back  to  be  refitted,  Dr.  Mary  had  been  out  and  her  substi- 
tute, horrified  and  shocked,  had  presented  the  matter  to  the  board. 
Dr.  Mary  had  been  called  before  them.  She  had  told  them  in  no  un- 
certain terms  that  the  giving  of  contraceptive  information  to  patients 
in  need  of  it  was  part  of  her  work  and  that  she  had  a  right  under 
the  law  to  do  so. 

The  board  had  disagreed  with  her  and  asked  for  her  resignation. 

I  did  not  wish  to  complicate  the  quesion  of  testing  the  law  by 
having  a  nurse  give  information,  because  a  nurse  did  not  come  un- 
der the  Section  1145  exception.  But  since  I  could  find  no  doctor  I 
had  to  do  without.  Ethel,  a  registered  nurse,  had  a  readiness  to 
share  in  helping  the  movement,  though  she  did  not  belong  to  it  in 
the  same  sense  as  I.  Then,  as  long  as  I  had  to  violate  the  law  any- 
how, I  concluded  I  might  as  well  violate  it  on  a  grand  scale  by  in- 
cluding poverty  as  a  reason  for  giving  contraceptive  information.  I 
did  not  see  why  the  hardships  and  worries  of  a  working  man's  wife 
might  not  be  just  as  detrimental  as  any  disease.  I  wanted  a  legal 
opinion  on  this  if  possible. 

My  next  problems  were  where  the  money  was  to  come  from  and 
where  the  clinic  was  to  be.  Ever  since  I  had  announced  that  I  was 
going  to  open  one  within  a  few  months  I  had  been  buried  under  an 
avalanche  of  queries  as  to  the  place,  which  for  a  time  I  could  not 
answer.  The  selection  of  a  suitable  locality  was  of  the  greatest  im- 
portance. I  tramped  through  the  streets  of  the  Bronx,  Brooklyn, 
the  lower  sides  of  Manhattan,  East  and  West.  I  scrutinized  the 
Board  of  Health  vital  statistics  of  all  the  boroughs — births  and  in- 
fant and  maternal  mortality  in  relation  to  low  wages,  and  also  the 
number  of  philanthropic  institutions  in  the  vicinity. 

The  two  questions — where  and  how — were  settled  on  one  and  the 
same  day. 

That  afternoon  five  women  from  the  Brownsville  Section  of 
Brooklyn  crowded  into  my  room  seeking  the  "secret"  of  birth  con- 
trol. Each  had  four  children  or  more,  who  had  been  left  with  neigh- 
bors. One  had  just  recovered  from  an  abortion  which  had  nearly 
killed  her.  "Another  will  take  me  off.  Then  what  will  become  of  my 
family?" 


214  MARGARET   SANGER 

They  rocked  back  and  forth  as  they  related  their  afflictions,  told 
so  simply,  each  scarcely  able  to  let  her  friend  finish  before  she  took 
up  the  narration  of  her  own  sufferings — the  high  cost  of  food,  her 
husband's  meager  income  when  he  worked  at  all,  her  helplessness  in 
the  struggle  to  make  ends  meet,  whining,  sickly  children,  the  con- 
stant worry  of  another  baby — and  always  hanging  over  her  night 
and  day,  year  after  year,  was  fear. 

All  cried  what  a  blessing  and  godsend  a  clinic  would  be  in  their 
neighborhood. 

They  talked  an  hour  and  when  they  had  finished,  it  seemed  as 
though  I  myself  had  been  through  their  tragedies.  I  was  reminded 
of  the  story  of  a  Spaniard  who  had  become  so  desperate  over  the 
injustice  meted  out  to  innocent  prisoners  that  he  had  taken  a  re- 
volver into  the  street  and  fired  it  at  the  first  person  he  met;  killing 
was  his  only  way  of  expressing  indignation.  I  felt  like  doing  the 
same  thing. 

I  decided  then  and  there  that  the  clinic  should  open  at  Browns- 
ville, and  I  would  look  for  a  site  the  next  day.  How  to  finance  it  I 
did  not  know,  but  that  did  not  matter. 

Then  suddenly  the  telephone  rang  and  I  heard  a  feminine  voice 
saying  she  had  just  come  from  the  West  Coast  bringing  from  Kate 
Crane  Gartz,  whom  I  had  met  in  Los  Angeles,  a  check  for  fifty  dollars 
to  do  with  as  I  wished.  I  knew  what  I  should  do  with  it ;  pay  the  first 
month's  rent.  I  visualized  two  rooms  on  the  ground  floor,  one  for 
waiting  and  one  for  consultation,  and  a  place  outside  to  leave  the 
baby  carriages. 

Fania  Mindell  had  left  Chicago  to  assist  me  in  New  York.  It  was 
a  terribly  rainy  day  in  early  October  that  we  plodded  through  the 
dreary  streets  of  Brownsville  to  find  the  most  suitable  spot  at  the 
cheapest  possible  terms.  We  stopped  in  one  of  the  milk  stations  to 
inquire  about  vacant  stores.  "Don't  come  over  here,"  was  the  reply. 
Many  social  organizations  were  being  established  to  meet  the  de- 
mands of  poverty  and  sickness,  and  we  asked  of  them  all,  only  to 
receive  the  same  response —  "We  don't  want  any  trouble.  Keep  out 
of  this  district."  The  mildest  comment  was,  "It's  a  good  idea,  but 
we  can't  help  you."  Although  they  agreed  the  mothers  of  the  com- 
munity should  limit  their  families,  they  seemed  terrified  at  the  pros-* 


FAITH    I    HAVE   BEEN   A    TRUANT   IN    THE   LAW  21 5 

pect  of  a  birth  control  clinic.  It  sounded  also  as  if  they  were  afraid 
we  would  do  away  with"  social  problems  and  they  would  lose  their 
jobs. 

Brownsville  was  not  unique ;  Brooklyn  was  and  still  is  dotted  with 
such  dismal  villages,  and  even  Queens  with  its  pretensions  to  a 
higher  standard  has  its  share.  But  Brownsville  was  particularly 
dingy  and  squalid.  Block  after  block,  street  after  street,  as  far  as 
we  could  see  in  every  direction  stretched  the  same  endless  lines  of 
cramped,  unpainted  houses  that  crouched  together  as  though  for 
warmth,  bursting  with  excess  of  wretched  humanity. 

The  inhabitants  were  mostly  Jews  and  Italians,  some  who  had 
come  to  this  country  as  children,  some  of  the  second  generation.  I 
preferred  a  Jewish  landlord,  and  Mr.  Rabinowitz  was  the  answer. 
He  was  willing  to  let  us  have  Number  46  Amboy  Street  at  fifty 
dollars  a  month,  a  reduction  from  the  regular  rent  because  he  real- 
ized what  we  were  trying  to  do.  Here  in  this  Jewish  community  I 
need  have  no  misgivings  over  breaking  of  windows  or  hurling  of 
epithets,  but  I  was  scarcely  prepared  for  the  friendliness  offered 
from  that  day  on. 

I  sent  a  letter  to  the  District  Attorney  of  Brooklyn,  saying  I  ex- 
pected to  dispense  contraceptive  information  from  this  address. 
Without  waiting  for  the  reply,  which  never  came,  we  began  the 
fun  of  fixing  up  our  little  clinic.  We  had  to  keep  furnishing  expenses 
inside  the  budget,  but  Fania  knew  Yiddish  and  also  how  to  bargain. 
We  bought  chairs,  desks,  floor  coverings,  curtains,  a  stove.  If  I  were 
to  leave  no  loophole  in  testing  the  law,  we  could  only  give  the  prin- 
ciples of  contraception,  show  a  cervical  pessary  to  the  women,  ex- 
plain that  if  they  had  had  two  children  they  should  have  one  size 
and  if  more  a  larger  one.  This  was  not  at  all  ideal,  but  I  had  no  other 
recourse  at  the  time.  However,  we  might  be  able  to  get  a  doctor  any 
day  and,  consequently,  we  added  an  examination  table  to  our  equip- 
ment. 

Mr.  Rabinowitz  spent  hours  adding  touches  here  and  there  to 
make  the  two  shiny  and  spotless  rooms  even  more  snow-white. 
"More  hospital  looking,"  he  said. 

Meanwhile  we  had  printed  about  five  thousand  notices  in  English, 
Italian,  and  Yiddish : 


2l6  MARGARET   SANGER 

MOTHERS! 

Can  you  afford  to  have  a  large  family? 

Do  you  want  any  more  children? 

If  not,  why  do  you  have  them? 

DO  NOT  KILL,  DO  NOT  TAKE  LIFE,  BUT  PREVENT 

Safe,  Harmless  Information  can  be  obtained  of  trained  Nurses  at 

46  AMBOY  STREET 

NEAR  PITKIN  AVE.— BROOKLYN. 

Tell  Your  Friends  and  Neighbors.  All  Mothers  Welcome 

A  registration  fee  of  10  cents  entitles  any  mother  to  this  information. 

These  we  poked  into  letter  boxes,  house  after  house,  day  after 
day,  upstairs,  downstairs,  all  over  the  place,  viewing  sadly  the  un- 
kempt children  who  swarmed  in  the  alleyways  and  over  the  fire  es- 
capes of  the  condemned  tenements  and  played  on  the  rubbish  heaps 
in  the  vacant  lots.  Seldom  did  we  see  a  woman  who  was  not  carry- 
ing or  wheeling  a  baby.  We  stopped  to  talk  to  each  and  gave  her  a 
supply  of  leaflets  to  hand  on  to  her  neighbors.  When  we  passed  by 
a  drugstore  we  arranged  with  the  proprietor  to  prepare  himself  for 
supplying  the  pessaries  we  were  going  to  recommend. 

The  morning  of  October  16,  191 6 — crisp  but  sunny  and  bright 
after  days  of  rain — Ethel,  Fania,  and  I  opened  the  doors  of  the  first 
birth  control  clinic  in  America,  the  first  anywhere  in  the  world  except 
the  Netherlands.  I  still  believe  this  was  an  event  of  social  significance. 

Would  the  women  come?  Did  they  come?  Nothing,  not  even  the 
ghost  of  Anthony  Comstock,  could  have  kept  them  away.  We  had 
arrived  early,  but  before  we  could  get  the  place  dusted  and  ourselves 
ready  for  the  official  reception,  Fania  called,  "Do  come  outside  and 
look."  Halfway  to  the  corner  they  were  standing  in  line,  at  least  one 
hundred  and  fifty,  some  shawled,  some  hatless,  their  red  hands 
clasping  the  cold,  chapped,  smaller  ones  of  their  children. 

Fania  began  taking  names,  addresses,  object  in  coming  to  the 
clinic,  histories — married  or  single,  any  miscarriages  or  abortions, 
how  many  children,  where  born,  what  ages.  Remembering  how  the 
Netherlands  clinics  in  recording  nothing  had  made  it  almost  hope- 
less to  measure  what  they  had  accomplished  from  the  human  point 
of  view,  I  had  resolved  that  our  files  should  be  as  complete  as  it 
was  possible  to  make  them.  Fania  had  a  copy  of  What  Every  Girl 


FAITH    I    HAVE    BEEN    A    TRUANT    IN    THE   LAW  217 

Should  Know  on  her  desk,  and,  if  she  had  a  free  moment,  read  from 
it.  When  asked,  she  told  where  it  could  be  bought,  and  later  kept 
a  few  copies  for  the  convenience  of  those  who  wanted  them. 

Children  were  left  with  her  and  mothers  ushered  in  to  Ethel  or 
me  in  the  rear  room,  from  seven  to  ten  at  once.  To  each  group  we 
explained  simply  what  contraception  was;  that  abortion  was  the 
wrong  way — no  matter  how  early  it  was  performed  it  was  taking 
life;  that  contraception  was  the  better  way,  the  safer  way — it  took 
a  little  time,  a  little  trouble,  but  was  well  worth  while  in  the  long 
run,  because  life  had  not  yet  begun. 

Some  women  were  alone,  some  "were  in  pairs,  some  with  their 
neighbors,  some  with  their  married  daughters.  Some  did  not  dare 
talk  this  over  with  their  husbands,  and  some  had  been  urged  on  by 
them.  At  seven  in  the  evening  they  were  still  coming,  and  men  also, 
occasionally  bringing  their  timid,  embarrassed  wives,  or  once  in  a 
while  by  themselves  to  say  they  would  stay  home  to  take  care  of 
the  children  if  their  wives  could  come.  A  hundred  women  and  forty 
men  passed  through  the  doors,  but  we  could  not  begin  to  finish 
the  line;  the  rest  were  told  to  return  "tomorrow." 

In  the  course  of  the  next  few  days  women  appeared  clutching 
minute  scraps  of  paper,  seldom  more  than  an  inch  wide,  which  had 
crept  into  print.  The  Yiddish  and  Italian  papers  had  picked  up  the 
story  from  the  handbills  which  bore  the  clinic  address,  and  the  hus- 
bands had  read  them  on  their  way  from  work  and  clipped  them  out 
for  their  wives.  Women  who  had  seen  the  brief,  inconspicuous  news- 
paper accounts  came  even  from  Massachusetts,  Pennsylvania,  New 
Jersey,  and  the  far  end  of  Long  Island. 

Newly  married  couples  with  little  but  love,  faith,  and  hope  to 
save  them  from  charity,  told  of  the  tiny  flats  they  had  chosen,  and 
of  their  determination  to  make  a  go  of  it  together  if  only  the  chil- 
dren were  not  born  too  soon.  A  gaunt  skeleton  suddenly  stood  up 
one  morning  and  made  an  impassioned  speech.  "They  offer  us  char- 
ity when  we  have  more  babies  than  we  can  feed,  and  when  we  get 
sick  with  more  babies  for  trying  not  to  have  them  they  just  give  us 
more  charity  talks!" 

Women  who  were  themselves  already  past  childbearing  age  came 
just  to  urge  us  to  preserve  others  from  the  sorrows  of  ruined  health, 


2l8  MARGARET    SANGER 

overworked  husbands,  and  broods  of  defective  and  wayward  chil- 
dren growing  up  in  the  streets,  filling  dispensaries  and  hospitals, 
filing  through  the  juvenile  courts. 

We  made  records  of  every  applicant  and,  though  the  details  might 
vary,  the  stories  were  basically  identical.  All  were  confused,  grop- 
ing among  the  ignorant  sex-teachings  of  the  poor,  fumbling  without 
guidance  after  truth,  misled  and  bewildered  in  a  tangled  jungle  of 
popular  superstitions  and  old  wives'  remedies.  Unconsciously  they 
dramatized  the  terrible  need  of  intelligent  and  scientific  instruction 
in  these  matters  of  life — and  death. 

As  was  inevitable  many  were  kept  away  by  the  report  that  the 
police  were  to  raid  us  for  performing  abortions.  "Clinic"  was  a  word 
which  to  the  uneducated  usually  signified  such  a  place.  We  would  not 
have  minded  particularly  being  raided  on  this  charge,  because  we 
could  easily  disprove  it.  But  these  rumors  also  brought  the  most 
pitiful  of  all,  the  reluctantly  expectant  mothers  who  hoped  to  find 
some  means  of  getting  out  of  their  dilemmas.  Their  desperate  threats 
of  suicide  haunted  you  at  night. 

One  Jewish  wife,  after  bringing  eight  children  to  birth,  had  had 
two  abortions  and  heaven  knows  how  many  miscarriages.  Worn 
out,  beaten  down,  not  only  by  toiling  in  her  own  kitchen,  but  by 
taking  in  extra  work  from  a  sweatshop  making  hats,  she  was  now 
at  the  end  of  her  strength,  nervous  beyond  words,  and  in  a  state  of 
morbid  excitement.  "If  you  don't  help  me,  I'm  going  to  chop  up  a 
glass  and  swallow  it  tonight.'' 

A  woman  wrought  to  the  pitch  of  killing  herself  was  sick — 
a  community  responsibility.  She,  most  of  all,  required  concentrated  at- 
tention and  devotion,  and  I  could  not  let  any  such  go  out  of  the  clinic 
until  her  mood  had  been  altered.  Building  up  hope  for  the  future 
seemed  the  best  deterrent.  "Your  husband  and  your  children  need 
you.  One  more  won't  make  so  much  difference."  I  had  to  make  each 
promise  to  go  ahead  and  have  this  baby  and  myself  promise  in  re- 
turn, "You  won't  ever  have  to  again.  We're  going  to  take  care  of  you." 

Day  after  day  the  waiting  room  was  crowded  with  members  of 
every  race  and  creed;  Jews  and  Christians,  Protestants  and  Roman 
Catholics  alike  made  their  confessions  to  us,  whatever  they  may 
have  professed  at  home  or  in  church.  I  asked  one  bright  little  Catho- 


FAITH   I    HAVE   BEEN   A   TRUANT   IN    THE   LAW  219 

lie  what  excuse  she  could  make  to  the  priest  when  he  learned  she 
had  been  to  the  clinic.  She  answered  indignantly,  "It's  none  of  his 
business.  My  husband  has  a  weak  heart  and  works  only  four  days 
a  week.  He  gets  twelve  dollars,  and  we  can  barely  live  on  it  now. 
We  have  enough  children." 

Her  friend,  sitting  by,  nodded  approval.  "When  I  was  married," 
she  broke  in,  "the  priest  told  us  to  have  lots  of  children  and  we 
listened  to  him.  I  had  fifteen.  Six  are  living.  I'm  thirty-seven  years 
old  now.  Look  at  me !  I  might  be  fifty !" 

That  evening  I  made  a  mental  calculation  of  fifteen  baptismal  fees, 
nine  baby  funerals,  masses  and  candles  for  the  repose  of  nine  baby 
souls,  the  physical  agonies  of  the  mother  and  the  emotional  torment 
of  both  parents,  and  I  asked  myself,  "Is  this  the  price  of  Christianity  ?" 

But  it  was  not  altogether  sad;  we  were  often  cheered  by  gayer 
visitors.  The  grocer's  wife  on  the  corner  and  the  widow  with  six 
children  who  kept  the  lunch  room  up  the  street  dropped  in  to  wish 
us  luck,  and  the  fat  old  German  baker  whose  wife  gave  out  hand- 
bills to  everybody  passing  the  door  sent  regular  donations  of  dough- 
nuts. Whenever  the  pressure  became  so  overwhelming  that  we  could 
not  go  out  for  a  meal  we  were  sure  to  hear  Mrs.  Rabinowitz  call 
downstairs,  "If  I  bring  some  hot  tea  now,  will  you  stop  the  people 
coming?"  Two  jovial  policemen  paused  at  the  doorway  each  morn- 
ing to  discuss  the  weather.  Reporters  looked  in  speculating  on  how 
long  we  were  going  to  last.  The  postman  delivering  his  customary 
fifty  to  a  hundred  letters  had  his  little  pleasantry,  "Farewell,  ladies ; 
hope  I  find  you  here  tomorrow." 

Although  the  line  outside  was  enough  to  arouse  police  attention, 
nine  days  went  by  without  interference.  Then  one  afternoon  when 
I,  still  undiscouraged,  was  out  interviewing  a  doctor,  a  woman,  large 
of  builcl  and  hard  of  countenance,  entered  and  said  to  Fania  she  was 
the  mother  of  two  children  and  that  she  had  no  money  to  support 
more.  She  did  not  appear  overburdened  or  anxious  and,  because  she 
was  so  well  fed  as  to  body  and  prosperous  as  to  clothes,  did  not 
seem  to  belong  to  the  community.  She  bought  a  copy  of  What  Every 
Girl  Should  Know  and  insisted  on  paying  two  dollars  instead  of  the 
usual  ten-cent  fee. 

Fania,  who  had  an  intuition  about  such  matters,  called  Ethel  aside 


220  MARGARET   SANGER 

and  said  warningly  she  was  certain  this  must  be  a  policewoman. 
But  Ethel,  who  was  not  of  the  cautious  type,  replied,  "We  have 
nothing  to  hide.  Bring  her  in  anyhow."  She  talked  with  the  woman 
in  private,  gave  her  our  literature  and,  when  asked  about  our  fu- 
ture plans,  related  them  frankly.  The  sceptical  Fania  pinned  the 
two-dollar  bill  on  the  wall  and  wrote  underneath,  "Received  from 

Mrs.  of  the  Police  Department,  as  her  contribution."  Hourly 

after  that  we  expected  trouble.  We  had  known  it  must  occur  sooner 
or  later,  but  would  have  preferred  it  to  come  about  in  a  different 
way. 

The  next  day  Ethel  and  Fania  were  both  absent  from  the  clinic. 
The  waiting  room  was  filled  almost  to  suffocation  when  the  door 
opened  and  the  woman  who  had  been  described  to  me  came  in. 

"Are  you  Mrs.  Sanger?" 

"Yes.'-' 

"I'm  a  police  officer.  You're  under  arrest." 

The  doors  were  locked  and  this  Mrs.  Margaret  Whitehurst  and 
other  plain-clothes  members  of  the  vice  squad — used  to  raiding 
gambling  dens  and  houses  of  assignation — began  to  demand  names 
and  addresses  of  the  women,  seeing  them  with  babies,  broken,  old, 
worried,  harrowed,  yet  treating  them  as  though  they  were  inmates 
of  a  brothel.  Always  fearful  in  the  presence  of  the  police,  some  be- 
gan to  cry  aloud  and  the  children  on  their  laps  screamed  too.  For 
a  few  moments  it  was  like  a  panic,  until  I  was  able  to  assure  them 
that  only  I  was  under  arrest ;  nothing  was  going  to  happen  to  them, 
and  they  could  return  home  if  they  were  quiet.  After  half  an  hour  I 
finally  persuaded  the  policemen  to  let  these  frightened  women  go. 

All  of  our  four  hundred  and  sixty- four  case  histories  were  con- 
fiscated, and  the  table  and  demonstration  supplies  were  carried  off 
through  the  patient  line  outside.  The  more  timid  had  left,  but  many 
had  stayed.  This  was  a  region  where  a  crowd  could  be  collected  by 
no  more  urgent  gesture  than  a  tilt  of  the  head  skyward.  Newspaper 
men  with  their  cameras  had  joined  the  throng  and  the  street  was 
packed.  Masses  of  people  spilled  out  over  the  sidewalk  on  to  the 
pavement,  milling  excitedly. 

The  patrol  wagon  came  rattling  up  to  our  door.  I  had  a  certain 
respect  for  uniformed  policemen — you  knew  what  they  were  about 


FAITH    I    HAVE   BEEN   A    TRUANT   IN    THE   LAW  221 

— but  none  whatsoever  for  the  vice  squad.  I  was  white  hot  with  in- 
dignation over  their  unspeakable  attitude  towards  the  clinic  mothers 
and  stated  I  preferred  to  walk  the  mile  to  the  court  rather  than  sit 
with  them.  Their  feelings  were  quite  hurt.  "Why,  we  didn't  do  any- 
thing to  you,  Mrs.  Sanger,"  they  protested.  Nevertheless  I  marched 
ahead,  they  following  behind. 

A  reporter  from  the  Brooklyn  Eagle  fell  into  step  beside  me  and 
before  we  had  gone  far  suggested,  "Now  I'll  fix  it  up  with  the 
police  that  you  make  a  getaway,  and  when  we  reach  that  corner  you 
run.  I'll  stop  and  talk  to  them  while  you  skip  around  the  block  and 
get  to  the  station  first."  It  was  fantastic  for  anyone  so  to  misconstrue 
what  I  was  doing  as  to  imagine  I  would  run  around  the  block  for  a 
publicity  stunt. 

,1  stayed  overnight  at  the  Raymond  Street  Jail,  and  I  shall  never 
forget  it.  The  mattresses  were  spotted  and  smelly,  the  blankets  stiff 
with  dirt  and  grime.  The  stench  nauseated  me.  It  was  not  a  comfort- 
ing thought  to  go  without  bedclothing  when  it  was  so  cold,  but,  hav- 
ing in  mind  the  diseased  occupants  who  might  have  preceded  me,  I 
could  not  bring  myself  to  creep  under  the  covers.  Instead  I  lay 
down  on  top  and  wrapped  my  coat  around  me.  The  only  clean  ob- 
ject was  my  towel,  and  this  I  draped  over  my  face  and  head.  For 
endless  hours  I  struggled  with  roaches  and  horrible-looking  bugs 
that  came  crawling  out  of  the  walls  and  across  the  floor.  When  a  rat 
jumped  up  on  the  bed  I  cried  out  involuntarily  and  sent  it  scuttling 
out. 

My  cell- was  at  the  end  of  a  center  row,  all  opening  front  and 
back  upon  two  corridors.  The  prisoners  gathered  in  one  of  the  aisles 
the  next  morning  and  I  joined  them.  Most  had  been  accused  of  minor 
offenses  such  as  shoplifting  and  petty  thievery.  Many  had  weather- 
beaten  faces,  were  a  class  by  themselves,  laughing  and  unconcerned. 
But  I  heard  no  coarse  language.  Underneath  the  chatter  I  sensed  a 
deep  and  bitter  resentment;  some  of  them  had  been  there  for  three  or 
four  months  without  having  been  brought  to  trial.  The  more  fortu- 
nate had  a  little  money  to  engage  lawyers ;  others  had  to  wait  for  the 
court  to  assign  them  legal  defenders. 

While  I  was  talking  to  the  girls,  the  matron  bustled  up  with,  "The 
ladies  are  coming !"  and  shooed  us  into  our  cells.  The  Ladies,  a  com- 


222  MARGARET    SANGER 

mittee  from  a  society  for  prison  reform,  peered  at  us  as  though  we 
were  animals  in  cages.  A  gentle  voice  cooed  at  me,  "Did  you  come 
in  during  the  night?" 

"Yes,"  I  returned,  overlooking  the  assumption  that  I  was  a  street 
walker. 

"Can  we  do  anything  for  you?" 

The  other  inmates  were  sitting  in  their  corners  looking  as  inno- 
cent and  sweet  as  they  could,  but  I  startled  her  by  saying,  "Yes,  you 
can.  Come  in  and  clean  up  this  place.  It's  filthy  and  verminous^" 

The  Committee  departed  hurriedly  down  the  corridor.  One  more 
alert  member,  however,  came  back  to  ask,  "Is  it  really  very  dirty?" 

Although  I  told  her  in  some  detail  about  the  blankets,  the  odors,  the 
roaches,  she  obviously  could  not  picture  the  situation.  "I'm  terribly 
sorry,  but  we  can't  change  it." 

I  was  still  exasperated  over  this  reply  when  I  was  called  to  the 
reception  room  to  give  an  interview  to  reporters.  In  addition  to  an- 
swering questions  about  the  raid  I  said  I  had  a  message  to  the  tax- 
payers of  Brooklyn;  they  were  paying  money  to  keep  their  prisons 
run  in  an  orderly  fashion  as  in  any  civilized  community  and  should 
know  it  was  being  wasted,  because  the  conditions  at  Raymond  Street 
were  intolerable. 

My  bail  was  arranged  by  afternoon  and  when  I  emerged  I  saw 
waiting  in  front  the  woman  who  was  going  to  swallow  the  glass; 
she  had  been  there  all  that  time. 

I  went  straight  back  to  the  clinic,  reopened  it,  and  more  mothers 
came  in.  I  had  hoped  a  court  decision  might  allow  us  to  continue, 
but  now  Mr.  Rabinowitz  came  downstairs  apologetically.  He  said 
he  was  sorry,  and  he  really  was,  but  the  police  had  made  him  sign 
ejection  papers,  on  the  ground  that  I  was  "maintaining  a  public 
nuisance." 

In  the  Netherlands  a  clinic  had  been  cited  as  a  public  benefac- 
tion; in  the  United  States  it  was  classed  as  a  public  nuisance. 

Two  uniformed  policemen  came  for  me,  and  with  them  I  was 
willing  to  ride  in  the  patrol  wagon  to  the  station.  As  we  started  I 
heard  a  scream  from  a  woman  who  had  just  come  around  the  cor- 
ner on  her  way  to  the  clinic.  She  abandoned  her  baby  carriage, 
rushed  through  the  crowd,  and  cried,  "Come  back!  Come  back  and 


FAITH    I    HAVE   BEEN   A   TRUANT   IN   THE   LAW  223 

save  me !"  For  a  dozen  yards  she  ran  after  the  van  before  someone 
caught  her  and  led  her  to  the  sidewalk.  But  the  last  thing  I  heard 
was  this  poor  distracted  mother,  shrieking  and  calling,  "Come  back ! 
Come  back !" 


Chapter  Eighteen 


LEAN  HUNGER  AND  GREEN  THIRST 


''All  that  we  know  who  lie  in  gaol 
Is  that  the  wall  is  strong; 

And  that  each  day  is  like  a  year, 
A  year  whose  days  are  long." 

OSCAR  WILDE 


LOOKING  back  upon  this  period  fraught  with  emotional  distress, 
j  I  have  no  regrets.  But,  looking  ahead,  I  am  grateful  that  there 
looms  no  necessity  for  repeating  those  passionate,  dangerous,  and 
menacing  days. 

Out  of  the  raid  four  separate  cases  resulted:  Ethel  was  charged 
with  violating  Section  1142  of  the  Penal  Code,  designed  to  prevent 
dissemination  of  contraceptive  information;  Fania  with  having  sold 
an  allegedly  indecent  book  entitled  What  Every  Girl  Should  Know; 
I,  first,  with  having  conducted  a  clinic  in  violation  of  the  same  Sec- 
tion 1 142,  second,  with  violating  Section  1530  by  maintaining  a 
public  nuisance. 

I  claimed  that  Section  1142  which  forbade  contraceptive  informa- 
tion to,  for,  and  by  anyone  was  unconstitutional,  because  no  state 
was  permitted  to  interfere  with  a  citizen's  right  to' life  or  liberty,  and 
such  denial  was  certainly  interference.  Experience  had  shown  it  did 
the  case  no  good  merely  to  defend  such  a  stand  in  a  lower  court;  it 
must  be  carried  to  a  higher  tribunal,  and  only  a  lawyer  versed  in 
whereases  and  whatsoevers  and  inasmuchases  could  accomplish  this. 
But  I  was  still  hopeful  of  finding  one  who  was  able  to  see  that  the 
importance  of  birth  control  could  not  be  properly  emphasized  if  we 
bowed  too  deeply  before  the  slow  and  ponderous  majesty  of  the  law. 

The  attorney  who  offered  himself,  J.  J.  Goldstein,  had  a  back- 

224 


LEAN    HUNGER   AND   GREEN    THIRST  225 

ground  which  made  him  more  sympathetic  than  other  lawyers,  even 
the  most  liberal.  He  was  one  of  those  young  Jewish  men  of  promise 
who  had  been  guided  through  adolescence  by  Mary  Simkhovitch, 
founder  of  Greenwich  House,  and  Lillian  Wald,  founder  of  the 
Henry  Street  Settlement.  The  'seeds  of  social  service  had  been  planted 
in  him ;  his  legal  training  only  temporarily  slowed  down  their  growth. 

J.J.  had  placed  himself  in  a  difficult  position  for  a  youthful  Tam- 
many Democrat,  some  day  to  be  a  magistrate;  he  might  have  been 
forgiven  more  easily  had  he  received  a  larger  fee.  Though  he  had  to 
be  convinced  that  we  declined  to  have  anything  to  do  with  political 
wire-pulling,  he  fought  for  us  valiantly. 

November  20th  we  pleaded  not  guilty  and  trial  was  set  for  Novem- 
ber 27th.  J.J.  endeavored  to  have  the  three  of  us  tried  simultaneously, 
but  the  Court  of  Special  Sessions  would  have  none  of  it.  Then  he 
asked  for  a  jury  trial,  which  could  be  granted  at  the  discretion  of  the 
Supreme  Court;  application  was  denied.  An  appeal  to  the  Appellate 
Division  was  dismissed ;  writs  of  habeas  corpus  were  dismissed ;  an- 
other appeal  to  the  Appellate  Division  was  dismissed;  adjournments 
pending  appeal  were  urged  but  not  granted.  Indeed  I  was  being  swiftly 
educated  in  the  technicalities  of  criminal  law. 

I  felt  like  a  victim  who  passed  into  the  courtroom,  was  made  to 
bow  before  the  judge,  and  did  not  know  what  it  was  all  about.  Every 
gesture  had  its  special  significance,  which  must  not  be  left  out  if  ap- 
peals were  to  be  possible.  We  had  to  make  many  more  appearances 
than  would  otherwise  have  been  necessary ;  everything  had  to  be  cor- 
rectly on  the  record. 

Evening  after  evening  J.J.  rehearsed  the  arguments  he  was  going 
to  present  and  directed  me  to  respond  to  questioning.  I  did  not 
understand  the  technicalities  and  begged  to  be  allowed  to  tell  the 
story  in  my  own  way,  fearful  lest  the  heartaches  of  the  mothers  be 
lost  in  the  labyrinthine  maze  of  judicial  verbiage.  But  he  maintained 
if  the  case  were  to  be  appealed  to  a  higher  court,  it  had  to  be  con- 
ducted according  to  certain  formalities. 

"Why  should  it  have  to  be  in  legal  language?"  I  demanded.  "I'm 
a  simple  citizen,  born  in  a  democratic  country.  A  court  should  also 
listen  to  my  plea  expressed  in  plain  language  for  the  common  people. 
I'm  sure  I  can  make  them  understand  and  arouse  their  compassion." 


226  MARGARET    SANGER 

He  reiterated  that  I  could  not  address  a  court  as  though  I  were 
trying  to  instil  my  views  in  an  individual.  "You  can't  talk  to  them 
that  way.  You'll  have  to  let  me  talk." 

"But  that's  the  way  I  talk  and  I'm  the  accused." 

I  fully  expected  that  if  I  were  permitted  to  set  forth  my  human 
version  of  the  Brownsville  tragedies,  no  appeal  would  be  required. 
But  J.J.  knew  the  courts  and  had  no  such  hopes.  He  was  still  doubt- 
ful of  any  success  before  the  lower  tribunal,  and  was  still  unable  to 
see  my  point,  counting  chiefly  on  technicalities  to  win  the  case. 

J.J.  had  formally  objected  to  having  our  trial  set  during  the  No- 
vember session  because  Justice  Mclnerney  was  due  to  preside  that 
month,  and  at  previous  trials  he  had  expressed  biased  opinions.  This 
objection  was  overruled. 

The  strictly  legal  method  having  failed,  I  resorted  to  my  own  and 
wrote  Justice  Mclnerney  an  open  letter : 

As  an  American  pledged  to  the  principles  and  spirit  in  which  this 
Republic  was  founded,  as  a  judge  obligated  by  oath  to  fair  and  im- 
partial judgment,  do  you  in  your  deepest  conscience  consider  your- 
self qualified  to  try  my  case  ? 

In  those  birth  control  cases  at  which  you  have  presided,  you  have 
shown  to  all  thinking  men  and  women  an  unfailing  prejudice  and 
exposed  a  mind  steeped  in  the  bigotry  and  intolerance  of  the  In- 
quisition. 

To  come  before  you  implies  conviction. 

Judge  Mclnerney  "made  application  to  the  District  Attorney  to  be 
taken  off  this  case." 

Trial  was  marked  for  January  4,  19 17,  but  the  first  case,  that  of 
Ethel,  was  reached  so  late  in  the  afternoon  it  had  to  be  postponed. 
Four  days  afterwards,  in  spite  of  our  attempts  to  be  tried  together, 
she  appeared  alone.  She  freely  admitted  she  had  described  birth  con- 
trol methods  but  denied  the  District  Attorney's  accusation  that  our 
ten-cent  registration  fee  made  it  a  "money  making"  affair.  This  and 
other  sensational  charges,  such  as  "the  clinic  was  intended  to  do  away 
with  the  Jews"  were  often  inserted  in  the  records  for  reporters  to 
pick  up,  make  good  stories  of  them,  and  in  consequence  influence 
newspaper  readers  against  us.  They  were  great  stumbling  blocks. 

Our  most  important  witness,  Dr.  Morris  H.  Kahn,  physician  in 


LEAN    HUNGER   AND   GREEN    THIRST  227 

Bloomingdale's  Department  Store  who  also  maintained  a  private 
clinic  where  he  gave  out  birth  control  information,  was  ready  to 
testify,  but  his  evidence  was  ruled  out  as  "irrelevant,  incompetent, 
and  immaterial."  To  be  sure  the  charge  against  Ethel  was  as  a  lay 
person ;  nevertheless,  it  was  extraordinary  that  we  could  get  no  hear- 
ing for  a  doctor.  J. J.  was  allowed  only  fifteen  minutes  to  present  his 
argument  on  the  unconstitutionality  of  Section  1142,  and  the  presid- 
ing Judge  decided  that  the  court  was  bound  to  hold  it  constitutional 
on  precedent,  regardless  of  argument. 

Ethel  was  found  guilty. 

In  the  two  weeks  before  sentence  was  to  be  pronounced  we  debated 
what  she  and  I  should  do.  Perhaps  it  could  be  stayed,  which  would 
settle  everything,  but  we  each  had  to  be  prepared  for  either  a  short 
term  of  imprisonment  or  a  long  one.  In  case  of  the  former,  submis- 
sion was  the  wiser  course,  because  the  public  would  not  consider  it 
of  sufficient  moment  to  bestir  itself;  in  the  latter  event,  a  hunger 
strike  seemed  indicated,  but,  again,  only  if  sufficient  attention  could 
be  called  to  it. 

The  New  York  World  had  the  most  liberal  policy  of  all  the  lead- 
ing morning  dailies,  and  therefore  appeared  to  offer  the  best  likeli- 
hood of  being  favorably  disposed.  I  approached  one  of  its  editors 
and  asked  whether  he  would  print  our  entire  story  if  I  were  to  give 
him  a  scoop  and  guarantee  accuracy.  He  agreed,  and  assigned  us  a 
special  reporter. 

Ethel  was  sentenced  January  22nd  to  thirty  days  in  the  Workhouse 
on  Blackwell's  Island  in  the  East  River.  In  spite  of  our  discussion 
over  this  possibility,  she  was  utterly  shocked,  and  exclaimed,  "I'm 
going  to  go  on  that  hunger  strike." 

After  spending  the  night  in  the  Tombs,  she  was  returned  the  next 
morning  to  the  Federal  District  Court  of  Brooklyn  on  a  writ  of  habeas 
corpus  as  a  means  of  suspending  sentence  pending  appeal.  Daylight 
had  brought  no  change  in  her  determination  to  continue  with  the 
hunger  strike.  "I  haven't  had  anything  to  eat  yet,"  she  declared,  and, 
remembering  the  tale  that  one  hunger  striker  had  received  nourish- 
ment in  her  cups  of  water,  she  added,  "and,  if  they  send  me  back,  I 
shan't  drink  anything  either." 

Neither  J.J.  nor  I  considered  such  a  short  sentence  worth  break- 


228  MARGARET   SANGER 

ing  your  life  for.  Furthermore,  the  cause  did  not  mean  to  Ethel 
what  it  did  to  me.  "Think  this  over  very  carefully,"  I  reminded  her. 
"A  hunger  strike  is  not  necessary,  and  if  you  once  start  you'll  have 
to  keep  it  up."  She  insisted  that  she  was  ready  to  die  if  need  be; 
she  had  made  her  will  and  arranged  for  the  disposition  of  her  two 
children — the  hunger  strike  was  to  go  on- The  writ  was  refused 
and  she  was  remanded  to  the  Workhouse.  On  her  way  there  she  told 
the  women  with  whom  she  shared  the  patrol  wagon  the  salient  facts 
of  birth  control. 

When  Commissioner  of  Correction  Burdette  G.  Lewis  was  asked 
to  comment  on  Ethel's  decision  he  scoffed.  "Others  have  threatened 
hunger  strikes.  It  means  nothing."  At  first  no  food  at  all  was  brought 
her,  but  after  the  publicity  began  the  authorities  were  in  despair 
to  make  her  eat.  This  was  a  case  they  did  not  know  how  to  handle ; 
they  were  mentally  unprepared  for  prisoners  who  were  guilty  of  per- 
forming a  legal  wrong  in  order  to  win  a  legal  right. 

Ethel  had  gone  one  hundred  and  three  hours  without  eating  when 
Commissioner  Lewis  established  a  precedent  in  American  prison  an- 
nals by  ordering  her  forcibly  fed,  the  first  woman  to  be  so  treated 
in  this  country.  He  stated  optimistically  to  the  press  how  simple  the 
process  was,  consisting  of  merely  rolling  her  in  a  blanket  so  she 
could  not  struggle,  and  then  having  milk,  eggs,  and  a  stimulant  forced 
into  her  stomach  through  a  rubber  tube.  He  stressed  how  healthy 
she  continued  to  be,  how  little  opposition  she  offered,  how  foolish 
the  whole  thing  appeared  to  him  anyhow;  he  was  going  to  charge 
her  for  the  expense  incurred  in  calling  in  an  expert  to  feed  her. 

As  soon  as  I  heard  my  sister  was  "passive  under  the  feeding"  I 
became  desperately  anxious  about  her;  nothing  but  complete  loss  of 
strength  could  have  lessened  her  resistance. 

After  one  interview  Commissioner  Lewis  had  barred  all  reporters 
and  given  out  a  statement  of  his  own.  "I  have  not  much  patience 
with  Mrs.  Byrne's  efforts  to  get  advertising  for  her  cause,  and  I 
won't  help  such  a  campaign  along  by  issuing  bulletins." 

But  bulletins  were  being  issued,  nevertheless — and  printed. 

From  prearranged  sources  I  was  receiving  messages  and  notes 
each  evening,  and  reports  on  Ethel's  pulse  and  temperature.  Thus 
I  learned  her  vision  was  becoming  affected  and  her  heart  was  begin- 


LEAN    HUNGER   AND   GREEN    THIRST  229 

ning  to  miss  beats,  due  to  lack  of  liquids.  "Going  without  water  was 
pretty  bad,"  she  said  herself.  "At  night  the  woman  whose  duty  it  was 
to  go  up  and  down  the  corridors  to  give  the  prisoners  a  drink  if  they 
wanted  it  stopped  right  by  my  cell  and  cried,  'Water!  Water!'  till 
it  seemed  as  if  I  could  not  stand  it.  And  on  the  other  side  of  me 
was  the  sound  of  the  river  through  the  window." 

Nobody  was  allowed  to  visit  Ethel  but  J.J.,  who,  as  her  lawyer, 
could  not  well  be  refused.  But  reporters  have  their  own  mysterious 
ways  of  getting  what  they  want.  The  World  man  succeeded  in  reach- 
ing her.  It  was  not  on  the  whole  a  successful  interview,  because  she 
did  not  know  who  he  was,  but  it  did  have  one  important  result — 
it  confirmed  at  first  hand  our  statements  as  to  the  seriousness  of  her 
condition. 

In  the  midst  of  my  anxiety  over  Ethel,  my  own  trial  opened 
January  29th  in  the  same  bare,  smoky,  upstairs  Brooklyn  court  in 
which  she  had  appeared.  Justices  John  J.  Freschi,  Italian,  Moses 
Hermann,  Jewish,  and  George  J.  O'Keefe,  Irish,  sat  on  the  bench. 
Judge  Freschi,  a  rather  young  man,  presided,  and  on  him  we  pinned 
our  hopes.  We  did  not  expect  anything  of  old  Judge  Herrmann  ex- 
cept that,  because  he  was  Jewish,  he  might  be  broad-minded.  As  to 
Judge  O'Keefe  we  had  no  illusions. 

No  less  than  thirty  of  the  mothers  of  Brownsville  had  been  sub- 
poenaed by  the  prosecution,  but  about  fifty  arrived — some  equipped 
with  fruit,  bread,  pacifiers,  and  extra  diapers,  others  distressed  at 
having  had  to  spend  carfare,  timid  at  the  thought  of  being  in  court, 
hungry  because  no  kosher  food  could  be  obtained  near  by.  Neverthe- 
less, all  smiled  and  nodded  at  me  reassuringly. 

Formerly,  a  few  women  of  wealth  but  of  liberal  tendencies  had 
been  actively  concerned  in  the  movement,  but  now  some  who  were 
prominent  socially  were  coming  to  believe  on  principle  that  birth  con- 
trol should  not  be  denied  to  the  masses.  The  subject  was  in  the  process 
of  ceasing  to  be  tagged  as  radical  and  revolutionary,  and  becoming 
admittedly  humanitarian. 

In  this  room,  side  by  side  with  the  ones  to  be  helped,  sat  new  help- 
ers. Among  them  was  Mrs.  Amos  Pinchot,  Chairman  of  the  Women's 
Committee  of  One  Hundred,  formed  to  lend  support  to  the  defense. 
Her  reddish  hair  betrayed  a  temper  quick  and  easily  aroused  in  the 


23O  MARGARET    SANGER 

cause  of  justice.  Aristocratic  of  bearing,  autocratic  by  position,  she 
was  one  to  command  and  be  obeyed,  and  was  easily  a  leading  per- 
sonality in  the  philanthropic  smart  set  of  New  York.  Among  her 
valuable  services  was  the  bringing  into  the  fold  of  the  mothers  and 
aunts  of  the  present  active  Junior  Leaguers. 

Mrs.  Lewis  L.  Delafield's  limousine  stood  in  front  of  the  doors  at 
almost  every  trial  and  it  meant  a  great  deal  to  the  defendants  to  have 
the  wife  of  one  of  the  most  eminent  members  of  the  New  York  bar 
in  the  courtroom.  By  her  very  demeanor  and  looks — white-haired,  a 
fragile  countenance — you  knew  she  could  touch  nothing  that  was 
not  fine,  and  that  she  had  the  spiritual  courage  to  stand  by  her  ideas 
and  ideals  in  both  her  public  and  private  life.  Always  she  opened 
her  home  and  her  heart  and  her  arms  to  those  she  loved. 

Fania  was  called  first.  She  was  a  girl  with  a  pale  and  delicate  face, 
and  was  too  worried  to  bear  the  strain.  She  should  not  be  punished 
for  co-operating,  and  I  told  J.J.  to  notify  the  court  that  she  was  not 
well,  though  I  strictly  forbade  him  to  say  anything  about  my  health. 
Her  trial  was  brief,  narrowing  itself  down  to  whether  What  Every 
Girl  Should  Know  was  to  be  classed  as  indecent.  A  few  days  later 
she  was  found  guilty  and  sentenced  to  fifty  dollars'  fine,  a  decision 
which  was  eventually  reversed  on  appeal. 

It  surprised  me  that  in  my  trial  the  prosecution  should  be  carried 
on  so  vehemently,  because  the  prosecutor  had  little  to  prove.  To  me 
there  seemed  to  be  no  argument  at  all;  the  last  thing  in  my  mind 
was  to  deny  having  given  birth  control  advice.  Certainly  I  had  vio- 
lated the  letter  of  the  law,  but  that  was  what  I  was  opposing. 

I  grew  more  and  more  puzzled  by  the  stilted  language,  the  circum- 
locutions, the  respect  for  precedent.  These  legal  battles,  fought  in  a 
curiously  unreal  world,  intensified  my  defiance  to  the  breaking  point. 
I  longed  for  a  discussion  in  the  open  on  merit  and  in  simple,  honest 
terms. 

I  thought  I  might  have  my  wish  when  Judge  Freschi,  holding  up 
a  cervical  cap  which  the  prosecuting  attorney  had  put  in  evidence, 
said,  "Who  can  prove  this  is  a  violation ;  the  law  states  that  contra- 
ception is  permitted  for  the  prevention  of  disease.  May  it  not  be  used 
for  medical  reasons?" 


LEAN    HUNGER   AND    GREEN    THIRST  23 1 

This  question  raised  my  hopes  high.  At  last  the  law  might  be  inter- 
preted according  to  the  definition  I  so  desired;  ill  health  resulting 
from  pregnancy  caused  by  lack  of  its  use  might  be  construed  as  dis- 
ease. 

Then  one  by  one  the  Brownsville  mothers  were  called  to  the  stand 
to  answer  the  District  Attorney.  "Have  you  ever  seen  Mrs.  Sanger 
before?" 

"Yess.  Yess,  I  know  Mrs.  Sanger." 

"Where  did  you  see  her  ?" 

"At  the  cleenic." 

"Why  did  you  go  there?" 

"To  have  her  stop  the  babies." 

The  witness  bowed  sweet  acknowledgment  to  me  until  she  was 
peremptorily  commanded  to  address  the  court. 

"Did  you  get  this  information  ?" 

"Yess.  Yess,  dank  you,  I  got  it.  It  wass  gut,  too." 

"Enough."  the  District  Attorney  barked,  and  called  another. 

Time  after  time  they  gave  answers  that  were  like  nails  to  seal  my 
doom,  yet  each  thought  she  was  assisting  me. 

J.J.  saw  how  their  testimony  could  be  turned  to  our  advantage. 

He  asked,  "How  many  miscarriages  have  you  had?  How  much 
sickness  in  your  family?  How  much  does  your  husband  earn?  The 
answers  were  seven,  eight,  nine  dollars  a  week." 

At  last  one  woman  more  miserable  and  more  poverty-stricken  than 
the  rest  was  summoned.  "How  many  children  have  you  ?" 

"Eight  and  three  that  didn't  live." 

"What  does  your  husband  earn?" 

"Ten  dollars  a  veek — ven  he  vorks." 

Judge  Freschi  finally  exclaimed,  "I  can't  stand  this  any  longer," 
and  the  court  adjourned  over  the  week-end. 

J.J.  was  jubilant,  because  he  said  there  was  nothing  for  him  to  do ; 
the  court  was  arguing  his  case  for  him. 

I  myself  was  feeling  a  little  conscience-smitten.  A  mass  meeting 
of  sympathizers  had  been  organized  by  the  Committee  of  One  Hun- 
dred for  that  evening  in  Carnegie  Hall,  and  I  went  straight  there 
from  the  courtroom.  I  had  a  speech  ready  in  which  I  said  we  were 


232  MARGARET   SANGER 

being  persecuted,  not  prosecuted;  that  the  judges  were  no  better  than 
witch-burners.  It  was  unfortunate,  but  copies  had  already  been  re- 
leased to  the  press  and  the  wording  could  not  be  changed. 

Helen  Todd,  the  Chairman,  a  grand  person  who  had  been  trained 
under  Jane  Addams,  had  given  the  mothers  of  Brownsville  places 
of  honor  on  the  platform  to  let  everybody  see  what  kind  of  women 
we  were  fighting  for.  She  asked  for  twenty  volunteers  to  follow  the 
example  of  the  English  suffragettes  who  had  gone  on  hunger  strikes 
en  masse,  but  no  women  whose  names  registered  socially  in  the  public 
mind  were  willing  thus  to  join  in  protesting  against  the  law;  only 
working  girls  came  forward. 

Three  days  later  Jessie  Ashley  and  I  took  the  train  for  Albany 
with  Mrs.  Pinchot,  who  was  a  close  friend  of  Governor  Charles  S. 
Whitman,  to  ask  him  to  appoint  a  commission  to  investigate  birth 
control  and  make  a  report  to  the  State  Legislature.  The  Governor, 
who  was  fair  and  intelligent,  quite  distinctly  representing  a  class  of 
liberal  politicians,  received  us  cordially. 

Ethel  and  her  hunger  strike  had  been  front-page  news  for  ten 
days;  in  the  subway,  on  street  corners,  everywhere  people  gathered, 
she  was  being  discussed.  In  Washington  and  Albany  congressmen 
and  legislators  were  sending  out  for  the  latest  details.  Governor  Whit- 
man naturally  asked  about  her,  and  we  seized  the  opportunity  to  try 
to  impress  on  him  the  outrageousness  of  making  her  suffer  for  so 
just  a  cause.  He  said  directly  her  incarceration  was  a  disgrace  to  the 
State.  He  was  entirely  out  of  sympathy  with  the  courts  and  judges, 
and  offered  a  pardon  conditional  upon  her  ceasing  to  disseminate 
birth  control  information. 

But  I  had  not  come  to  ask  that  favor. 

"My  sister  wouldn't  take  a  pardon,"  I  replied,  much  to  the  distress 
of  Mrs.  Pinchot.  However,  I  accepted  gratefully  his  letter  to  the 
warden  at  Blackwell's  Island  authorizing  me  to  see  her. 

The  next  morning  I  appeared  again  before  the  court.  During  the 
three-day  interim  the  effect  of  the  mothers' testimony  had  evidently 
been  effaced  from  the  judges'  minds,  and  they  were  infuriated  by  my 
Carnegie  Hall  denunciation.  But  far  more  detrimental  to  my  hope 
of  a  new  interpretation  was  the  prosecution's  introduction  of  a  Federal 
agent  who  had  once  confiscated  a  copy  of  Family  Limitation  in  which 


LEAN    HUNGER   AND   GREEN    THIRST  233 

was  the  picture  of  this  same  cervical  cap;  he  read  aloud  my  advice 
to  women  to  use  it  as  a"  means  of  preventing  conception.  Not  even 
the  most  friendly  judge  could  get  away  from  the  fact  that  I  had  in- 
tended a  far  broader  definition  than  any  permitted  by  the  existing 
law. 

The  prosecution  argued  further  that  the  constitutionality  of  Sec- 
tion 1 142  could  not  be  challenged,  because  the  exception  for  physicians 
in  Section  1 145  already  guaranteed  "liberty"  to  citizens.  And,  since 
I  was  not  a  physician  and  consequently  did  not  come  under  the  ex- 
ception, the  court  must,  in  any  event,  find  me  guilty.  This  they  did. 

The  day  had  been  so  full  that  I  was  not  able  to  avail  myself  of 
Governor  Whitman's  permit  to  visit  Ethel  until  evening,  when  Mr. 
and  Mrs.  Pinchot  took  me  in  their  car  to  the  Workhouse.  I  remember 
how  cold  it  was ;  the  trip  on  the  ferry  seemed  to  go  on  forever.  But 
when  we  finally  arrived,  at  the  name  of  Pinchot,  the  friend  of  the 
Governor,  doors  swung  open ;  officialdom  turned  polite  and  courteous 
and  salaamed  us  on  our  way. 

The  Pinchots  remained  below  while  I  was  sent  up  to  Ethel's  cell, 
where  she  was  lying  on  her  iron  cot,  dressed  in  readiness  for  her 
release.  Her  appearance  shocked  and  horrified  me.  She  had  grown 
thin  and  emaciated,  her  eyes  were  sunken  and  her  tongue  swollen, 
high  red  spots  stood  out  on  her  cheeks.  She  could  not  see  me  even 
across  the  narrow  cell,  knowing  me  only  by  my  voice.  Hers  was  muffled 
as  she  whispered  me  to  come  nearer,  her  mind  confused.  "Liberty," 
she  kept  repeating,  "I  want  my  liberty." 

Her  life  was  all  that  mattered  to  me  now.  I  had  to  eat  humble  pie, 
and  said  to  the  matron  I  was  going  to  telegraph  Governor  Whitman 
that  she  was  too  ill  to  accept  the  conditions  of  the  pardon  for  her- 
self, but  I  would  promise  on  her  behalf.  I  was  told  that  he  had  already 
signed  the  pardon,  was  on  his  way  to  New  York,  and  to  wait  down- 
stairs, please. 

After  about  half  an  hour  we  were  informed  Mrs.  Byrne  was  com- 
ing down.  I  went  along  the  hallway  to  meet  her.  She  was  being  held 
up  by  two  attendants,  the  matron  following  with  wraps.  Her  head 
was  rolling  from  side  to  side,  and  I  could  see  from  the  pallor  of  her 
face,  especially  from  the  pinched  look  of  her  nose  and  mouth,  that 
she  was  losing  consciousness.  I  protested  to  the  matron,  but  orders 


234  MARGARET    SANGER 

had  been  given  and  were  being  obeyed ;  Commissioner  Lewis  wanted 
the  newspaper  pictures  to  show  her  coming  out  on  her  feet. 

Running  back  to  the  room  where  the  Pinchots  were  sitting,  I  ex- 
claimed, "She's  fainting!"  Then  Mrs.  Einchot  clapped  her  hands  im- 
periously and  directed  the  attendants  to  lay  Ethel  down  immediately 
and  bring  a  stretcher.  A  command  from  her  worked  like  magic.  She 
wrapped  her  own  fur  coat  around  the  pathetic  figure  and,  as  soon 
as  Ethel  felt  the  softness  and  warmth,  she  knew  she  was  safe.  We 
carried  her  over  to  my  apartment  to  begin  the  protracted  period  of 
recuperation.  Only  after  a  year's  convalescence  was  she  able  to  take 
up  a  normal  life  again. 

Being  the  real  instigator,  I  had  every  reason  to  expect  a  longer  term 
than  Ethel.  Logically,  her  hunger  strike  had  served  its  purpose ;  that 
form  of  strategy  was  closed.  But  personally  I  decided  that,  if  I  should 
receive  a  year,  I  should  do  the  same.  On  the  other  hand,  if  I  were 
given  three  months  or  less,  I  could  study  and  make  use  of  my  time. 
J.J.  had  heard  on  reliable  authority  that  if  I  were  to  change  my  plea 
to  guilty,  I  could  have  a  suspended  sentence.  To  his  mind  freedom 
alone  meant  victory,  and  he  urged  me  to  accept  it  if  it  were  offered. 

This,  it  developed,  was  the  intention  of  the  court  when  on  Mon- 
day I  was  called  back  for  sentence.  Having  Ethel  off  the  front  page 
had  brought  a  sigh  of  relief  of  almost  national  scope.  But  all  the 
publicity  had  had  its  effect  on  public  opinion,  and  doubtless  influenced 
the  judges  also  to  a  certain  extent.  Since  they  could  not  agree  to 
change  the  interpretation  of  the  law,  they  had  been  obliged  to  find 
me  guilty,  but  they  did  not  really  want  to  inflict  punishment. 

They  were,  however,  extremely  suspicious  of  our  assertion  that 
we  were  going  to  carry  the  case  higher.  Jessie  Ashley,  Ida  Rauh, 
and  Bolton  Hall  had  all  been  let  off  with  fines  on  the  understanding 
they  proposed  to  appeal,  and  then  they  had  not  done  so.  Courts  were 
beginning  to  assume  this  was  just  a  trick  of  birth  control  advocates, 
not  meant  in  good  faith. 

I  sat  listening  to  what  seemed  an  interminable  discussion  between 
J.J.  and  Judge  Freschi  over  whether  the  appeal  were  going  to  be 
prosecuted  in  a  quick  and  orderly  fashion,  until  I  was  nearly  lulled 
to  sleep.  Suddenly  my  attention  was  caught  by  hearing  J.J.  declare 
that  I  would  "promise  not  to  violate  the  law." 


LEAN    HUNGER    AND   GREEN    THIRST  235 

My  mind  clicked.  It  was  not  in  my  program  to  bargain  for  free- 
dom. J  J.,  knowing  fulhwell  I  would  make  no  such  promise,  had 
planted  himself  in  front  of  me  so  the  court  could  not  see  my  bel- 
ligerent face.  He  was  trying  to  act  as  a  buffer  and,  at  the  same  time, 
for  fear  of  what  I  might  say,  to  avoid  having  me  summoned  to  the 
stand.  I  tried  to  peer  around  him,  but  he  shifted  from  side  to  side, 
obscuring  my  view.  I  tugged  on  his  coat  like  a  badly  brought  up  child, 
but  he  took  no  notice.  Finally  one  of  the  judges  interposed,  "Your 
client  wishes  to  speak  to  you,  counselor."  I  could  be  ignored  no  longer, 
and  was  called.  "Margaret  Sanger,  stand  up." 

History  is  written  in  retrospect,  but  contemporary  documents  must 
be  consulted;  therefore  I  have  gone  to  the  official  records  for  the 
facts.  After  all,  one  courtroom  is  much  like  another,  and  the  attitude 
of  one  justice  not  so  dissimilar  from  that  of  another.  I  was  combat- 
ing a  mass  ideology,  and  the  judges  who  were  its  spokesmen  merged 
into  a  single  voice,  all  saying,  "Be  good  and  we'll  let  you  off."  This 
is  what  I  heard: 

You  have  been  in  court  during  the  time  that  your  counsel  made 
the  statement  that  pending  the  prosecution  of  appeal  neither  you  nor 
those  affiliated  with  you  in  this  so  called  movement  will  violate  the 
law ;  that  is  the  promise  your  counsel  makes  for  you.  Now,  the  Court 
is  considering  extreme  clemency  in  your  case.  Possibly  you  know 
what  extreme  clemency  means.  Now,  do  you  personally  make  that 
promise  ? 

The  Defendant  :  Pending  the  appeal. 

The  Court  :  If  Mrs.  Sanger  will  state  publicly  and  openly  that  she 
will  be  a  law-abiding  citizen  without  any  qualifications  whatsoever, 
this  Court  is  prepared  to  exercise  the  highest  degree  of  leniency. 
The  Defendant  :  I'd  like  to  have  it  understood  by  the  gentlemen  of 
the  Court  that  the  offer  of  leniency  is  very  kind  and  I  appreciate  it 
very  much.  It  is  with  me  not  a  question  of  personal  imprisonment  or 
personal  disadvantage.  I  am  today  and  always  have  been  more  con- 
cerned with  changing  the  law  regardless  of  what  I  have  to  undergo 
to  have  it  done. 

The  Court  :  Then  I  take  it  that  you  are  indifferent  about  this  matter 
entirely. 

The  Defendant:  No,  I  am  not  indifferent.  I  am  indifferent  as  to 
the  personal  consequences  to  myself,  but  I  am  not  indifferent  to  the 
cause  and  the  influence  which  can  be  attained  for  the  cause. 
The  Court  :  Since  you  are  of  that  mind,  am  I  to  infer  that  you  in- 


236  MARGARET    SANGER 

tend  to  go  on  in  this  matter,  violating  the  law,  irrespective  of  the 
consequences  ? 

The  Defendant  :  I  haven't  said  that.  I  said  I  am  perfectly  willing 
not  to  violate  Section  11 42 — pending  the  appeal. 
Justice  Herrmann  :  The  appeal  has  nothing  to  do  with  it.  Either 
you  do  or  you  don't. 

The  Court  :  (to  Mr.  Goldstein)  What  is  the  use  of  beating  around 
the  bush  ?  You  have  communicated  to  me  in  my  chambers  the  physical 
condition  of  your  client,  and  you  told  me  that  this  woman  would 
respect  the  law.  This  law  was  not  made  by  us.  We  are  simply  here 
to  judge  the  case.  We  harbor  no  feeling  against  Mrs.  Sanger.  We 
have  nothing  to  do  with  her  beliefs,  except  in  so  far  as  she  carries 
those  beliefs  into  practice  and  violates  the  law.  But  in  view  of  your 
statement  that  you  intend  to  prosecute  this  appeal  and  make  a  test 
case  out  of  this  and  in  view  of  the  fact  that  we  are  to  regard  her  as 
a  first  offender,  surely  we  want  to  temper  justice  with  mercy  and  that's 
all  we  are  trying  to  do.  And  we  ask  her,  openly  and  above  board,  "Will 
you  publicly  declare  that  you  will  respect  the  law  and  not  violate  it?" 
and  then  we  get  an  answer  with  a  qualification.  Now,  what  can  the 
prisoner  at  the  bar  for  sentence  expect  ?  I  don't  know  that  a  prisoner 
under  such  circumstances  is  entitled  to  very  much  consideration  after 
all." 

The  Court  :  (to  the  Defendant)  We  don't  want  you  to  do  impossible 
things,  Mrs.  Sanger,  only  the  reasonable  thing  and  that  is  to  comply 
with  this  law  as  long  as  it  remains  the  law.  It  is  the  law  for  you,  it  is 
the  law  for  me,  it  is  the  law  for  all  of  us  until  it  is  changed;  and 
you  know  what  means  and  avenues  are  open  to  you  to  have  it 
changed,  and  they  are  lawful  ways.  You  may  prosecute  these  methods, 
and  no  one  can  find  fault  with  you.  If  you  succeed  in  changing  the  law, 
well  and  good.  If  you  fail,  then  you  have  to  bow  in  submission  to  the 
majority  rule. 

The  Defendant  :  It  is  just  the  chance,  the  opportunity  to  test  it. 
The  Court  :  Very  good.  You  have  had  your  day  in  court ;  you  ad- 
vocated a  cause,  you  were  brought  to  the  bar,  you  wanted  to  be  tried 
here,  you  were  judged,  you  didn't  go  on  the  stand  and  commit  perjury 
in  any  sense,  you  took  the  facts  and  accepted  them  as  true,  and  you 
are  ready  for  judgment,  even  the  worst.  Now,  we  are  prepared,  how- 
ever, under  all  the  circumstances  of  this  case,  to  be  extremely  lenient 
with  you  if  you  will  tell  us  that  you  will  respect  this  law  and  not 
violate  it  again. 

The  Defendant  :  I  have  given  you  my  answer. 
The  Court:  We  don't  want  any  qualifications.  We  are  not  con- 
cerned with  the  appeal. 
Mr,  Goldstein  :  Just  one  other  statement,  your  Honor,  one  final 


LEAN    HUNGER   AND   GREEN    THIRST  237 

statement  on  my  part.  Your  Honor  did  well  say  that  you  didn't  want 
anything  unreasonable.  With  all  due  deference  to  your  Honor,  to 
ask  a  person  what  her  frame  of  mind  will  be  with  so  many  exigencies 
in  future,  that  is,  if  the  commission  did  nothing  or  the  Legislature 
did  nothing — 

The  Court  :  All  we  are  concerned  about  is  this  statute,  and  as  long 
as  it  remains  the  law  will  this  woman  promise  here  and  now  unquali- 
fiedly to  respect  it  and  obey  it?  Now,  it  is  yes  or  no.  What  is  your 
answer,  Mrs.  Sanger  ?  Is  it  yes  or  no  ? 
The  Defendent  :  I  can't  respect  the  law  as  it  stands  today. 
The  Court  :  Margaret  Sanger,  there  is  evidence  that  you  established 
and  maintained  a  birth  control  clinic  where  you  kept  for  sale  and  ex- 
hibition to  various  women  articles  which  purported  to  be  for  the  pre- 
vention of  conception,  and  that  there  you  made  a  determined  effort 
to  disseminate  birth  control  information  and  advice.  You  have  chal- 
lenged the  constitutionality  of  the  law  under  consideration  and  the 
jurisdiction  of  this  Court.  When  this  is  done  in  an  orderly  way  no 
one  can  find  fault.  It  is  your  right  as  a  citizen.  .  .  .  Refusal  to  obey 
the  law  becomes  an  open  defiance  of  the  rule  of  the  majority.  While 
the  law  is  in  its  present  form,  defiance  provokes  anything  but  reason- 
able consideration.  The  judgment  of  the  Court  is  that  you  be  con- 
fined to  the  Workhouse  for  the  period  of  thirty  days. 

A  single  cry,  "Shame !"  was  followed  by  a  sharp  rap  of  the  gavel, 
and  silence  fell. 


Chapter  Nineteen 


THIS  PRISON  WHERE  I  LIVE 


I  SAT  in  the  front  row  while  the  court  routine  continued.  The 
room  buzzed  with  conversation.  J.J.  was  busy  with  formalities; 
reporters  were  leaning  over  to  ask  me  questions.  Through  the  near-by 
doorway  I  saw  several  young  men  awaiting  their  sentences  like  actors 
in  the  wings  listening  for  their  cues.  One  was  propped  against  the 
wall  smoking  a  cigarette.  At  the  sound  of  his  name  he  raised  his  head, 
signifying  he  had  heard,  and  yet  kept  on  smoking.  When  it  was 
called  a  second  time  an  attendant  shoved  him  forward  roughly.  I 
could  almost  feel  the  hardening  of  his  soul  under  this  brutal  attitude 
and  the  physical  handling.  He  gave  still  another  puff ;  then  deliberately 
dropped  the  stub,  stepped  on  it,  and  sauntered  leisurely  forward  to 
receive  his  sentence. 

I  was  led  into  an  anteroom  where  other  prisoners  were  being  put 
through  the  regular  fingerprinting  procedure.  I  refused;  there  was 
a  definite  connection  in  my  mind  between  admission  of  guilt  and 
fingerprinting ;  both  in  their  different  ways  placed  me  in  the  category 
of  criminals.  My  refractoriness  was  reported  to  the  court.  But  the 
judges,  poor  dears,  had  worn  themselves  out  trying  to  avoid  sending 
me  to  jail  and  were  exasperated  and  cross;  one  more  rebellion  was 
too  much  for  them.  "Don't  bother  us  with  that.  It's  not  our  job.  Take 
her  away." 

We  were  then  herded  through  the  rear  of  the  building  into  an 
open  yard  where  the  van  was  standing.  The  careless  youth  who  had 

238 


THIS    PRISON    WHERE    I    LIVE  239 

answered  the  court's  call  with  such  unconcern  was  waving  farewell 
to  friends  who  loitered  Outside. 
"How  long,  Alf  ?"  asked  one. 
"Five  years,"  and  he  laughed  as  he  said  it. 

Two  more  boys,  their  arms  fraternally  flung  across  one  another's 
shoulders,  shouted,  "Three !"  and,  "Four !"  consecutively.  Were  they 
normal?  Could  liberty  be  of  so  little  account?  The  muscles  in  my 
throat  contracted  as  I  pictured  the  maternal  love  once  spent  on  their 
infancy,  and  now  the  reckless  disregard  for  freedom  culminating  in 
this  ride.  Thirty  days  seemed  to  me  the  end  of  the  world,  but  they 
made  light  of  marking  time  in  life  for  years,  calling  this  their  "sleep- 
ing time."  They  paid  no  attention  to  me;  I  was  entirely  out  of  their 
realm. 

The  women  huddled  beside  me  were  more  serious.  An  hysterical 
and  tearful  "one-monther"  had  been  obliged  to  leave  her  small  four- 
year-old  son  sitting  on  the  veranda  watching  for  her  return.  She  had 
not  even  been  allowed  to  go  back  to  see  him  and  arrange  for  his  care 
during  her  absence. 

Some  experiences,  though  unexpected,  are  nevertheless  partially 
anticipated  in  the  subconscious.  I  had  believed  fully  and  firmly  that 
some  miracle  would  occur  to  keep  me  from  going  to  jail.  There  had 
been  no  miracle.  The  doors  banged  shut,  two  blue  uniforms  stared 
stolidly  at  each  other,  the  automobile  jerked  forward. 

The  trip  to  Raymond  Street  was  short.  We  were  ushered  into  a 
waiting  room.  A  thin-lipped  attendant  of  huge  size  callously  pushed 
one  weeping  girl  through  the  door. 

"Get  ready  there,  you!"  she  tossed  over  her  shoulder  at  me. 
"For  what?" 

"For  the  doctor."  I  sat  still.  She  repeated,  "Do  you  hear  me?  Go 
in  and  get  your  examination !" 

I  resented  this  attitude  with  every  fiber  of  my  being  and  replied, 
"I'm  not  being  examined." 

"Ho,  you're  not?  You're  one  of  the  fighting  kind,  are  you?  Well, 
we'll  soon  fix  you,  young  lady !" 

She  swung  her  heavy,  massive  frame  out  the  door,  leaving  me 
wondering,  but  quivering  with  excited  determination.  I  was  not  sure 
what  would  happen  to  me.  Within  five  minutes,  however,  she  came 


24O  MARGARET    SANGER 

back  with  an  entirely  different  manner  and  tone.  "Oh,  you're  Mrs. 
Sanger.  It's  all  right.  Come  this  way,  please." 

The  next  morning  I  was  given  a  cup  of  bitter,  turbid,  lukewarm 
coffee,  and  then  placed  inside  the  van,  which  set  off  for  the  Work- 
house. There  all  my  possessions  were  taken  from  me.  A  long  wait. 
The  men  were  sent  somewhere  and  the  women  somewhere  else,  I  did 
not  know  where.  I  just  sat.  After  what  seemed  hours  my  belongings 
were  returned  and  a  woman  in  coat  and  hat  told  me  to  follow  her. 
I  did.  A  man  added  himself  to  our  party,  and  the  three  of  us  climbed 
into  another  van.  We  were  driven  some  distance  down  the  Island, 
then  put  into  a  boat  and  ferried  over  to  New  York.  I  had  no  idea 
where  we  were  going.  I  asked  but  could  elicit  no  answer. 

We  took  a  street  car  and  after  various  transfers  I  caught  sight 
of  a  Loose-Wiles  biscuit  sign.  But  it  did  not  help  me  because  I  had 
not  seen  it  before;  the  section  was  unfamiliar  to  me.  In  early  after- 
noon we  reached  the  Queens  County  Penitentiary,  Long  Island  City. 
Evidently  the  Workhouse  authorities  had  had  enough  of  the  Higgins 
family  and  wanted  no  more  responsibility  of  this  nature. 

Warden  Joseph  McCann,  who  met  me,  was  a  jovial  young  Irish- 
man who  had  risen  from  the  police  ranks.  "Have  you  had  any  lunch?" 
he  asked.  The  cause  of  his  solicitude  emerged  when  he  inquired  anx- 
iously whether  I  intended  to  go  on  a  hunger  strike.  Remembering 
my  morning  cup  of  coffee,  I  replied,  "Not  unless  your  food  is  too 
bad."  He  introduced  Mrs.  Sullivan,  the  motherly  matron. 

I  answered  the  usual  interrogatory  about  where  I  was  born,  how 
old  I  was,  etc.,  etc.  When  the  clerk  came  to  "What  religion?"  I  re- 
plied, "Humanity."  He  had  never  heard  of  this  form  of  belief,  and 
rephrased  the  question.  "Well,  what  church  do  you  go  to?" 

"None." 

He  looked  at  me  in  sharp  surprise.  All  inmates  of  the  penitentiary 
went  to  church;  ninety-eight  percent  in  my  corridor  had  been  reared 
as  Catholics. 

The  prison  clothing  which  I  was  handed  was  much  like  a  nurse's 
uniform  and  did  not  disturb  me.  But  when  I  was  recalled  to  the 
warden's  office  to  be  fingerprinted,  I  said  flatly  I  would  not  submit. 
He  sent  me  back,  to  my  cell. 


THIS   PRISON    WHERE   I   LIVE  24 1 

The  floor  was  arranged  rather  on  the  order  of  a  hospital  ward, 
with  little  alcoves  of  ten  or  fifteen  cells  running  off  the  gallery.  Mine, 
Number  210,  was  small  but  clean.  I  had  a  bed,  toilet,  and  washstand. 
There  was  no  chair ;  I  sat  on  my  bunk. 

All  the  prisoners  were  at  work  except  Josephine,  a  German  Catholic 
who  had  lost  her  husband  and  three  children  within  a  short  period. 
She  was  eager  to  tell  me  her  story.  A  few  days  after  they  had  died, 
she  had  gone  to  their  graves  and  covered  those  of  the  children  with 
blankets  to  keep  them  warm.  Someone  saw  her,  decided  she  was  in- 
sane, and  had  her  committed  to  jail.  It  was  a  spring  day  when  she 
was  let  out  on  parole.  She  was  pleased  and  happy.  A  hurdy-gurdy 
was  playing  her  favorite  tune,  Just  As  the  Sun  Went  Down.  She  paid 
the  man  a  nickel  to  play  it  over,  then  another,  and  another,  and  an- 
other. The  policeman  at  the  corner,  hearing  it,  looked  her  over  and 
arrested  her  again.  During  her  next  ten  days  in  prison  she  nursed  a 
grievance  against  this  injustice  and,  as  soon  as  she  came  out,  had 
several  drinks,  went  after  the  policeman,  scratched  his  face,  and  tore 
his  buttons  off. 

Thereafter,  Josephine  drank  whenever  she  could,  and  each  time 
she  drank  she  fought,  and,  since  she  had  developed  a  complex  against 
policemen,  she  landed  back  in  jail  in  short  order ;  she  had  been  in  some 
seventy  times. 

I  found  Josephine  a  kind,  big-hearted  person,  and,  though  erratic, 
fairly  intelligent.  She  had  a  terrible  tongue  and  a  terrible  temper, 
and  undoubtedly  had  periods  when  she  was  of  unsound  mind.  Most 
people  were  frightened  of  her. 

She  was  supposed  to  put  curses  on  her  enemies,  and  they  came  true. 
Once  a  person  who  had  treated  her  badly  and  been  cursed  in  conse- 
quence had  promptly  contracted  pneumonia  and  died.  At  another  time 
the  matron  of  a  certain  jail  had  kept  her  three  weeks  in  a  dark  cell 
on  bread  and  water.  After  the  fifth  day,  when  bread  was  handed 
into  the  hole,  she  said  it  tasted  like  cake  it  was  so  sweet.  From  the 
two  or  three  cups  of  water  daily,  she  had  to  assuage  her  thirst,  wash 
her  face,  and  clean  her  teeth.  When  she  came  out  of  this  Stygian 
place  she  could  scarcely  see,  but  she  managed  to  distinguish  the  matron 
sufficiently  to  put  the  curse  of  God  upon  her.  The  next  night  someone 


242  MARGARET   SANGER 

forgot  to  close  the  door  of  the  elevator  shaft,  and  the  matron  walked 
through  the  open  gate,  fell  to  the  bottom,  and  was  instantly  killed. 
Now,  Josephine  was  let  alone. 

In  spite  of  my  depression  I  was  intensely  interested  in  Josephine ; 
she  begged  me  to  help  her,  and  I  said  I  would  try.  The  rest  of  that 
afternoon  was  consumed  in  this  tale  of  woe  until  at  five  o'clock  I 
began  my  initiation  into  the  prison  routine  of  hours  and  meals.  The 
dining  room  was  rilled  with  long  tables  and  wooden  benches.  No 
one  had  a  knife  or  fork — only  a  tablespoon,  edge  blunted  so  as  to  be 
unserviceable  as  a  weapon.  Supper  consisted  of  tea  and  molasses, 
stewed  dried  peaches,  and  two  slices  of  bread  which  tasted  queer ;  it 
was  said  to  have  saltpeter  in  it.  We  were  locked  in  an  hour  later ;  lights 
were  out  at  nine.  Bells  began  ringing  at  six  the  next  morning,  and 
the  cells  were  opened  at  seven.  For  breakfast  we  had  oatmeal  with 
salt  and  milk,  again  two  slices  of  the  same  bread,  and  coffee  without 
sugar.  Dinner  was  more  bread,  a  boiled  potato  with  the  skin  half  on, 
and  a  sorry  hunk  of  meat. 

Because  of  my  active  tuberculosis  the  prison  doctor  soon  put  me 
on  what  was  called  a  diet.  This  meant  I  could  have  crackers  and  milk 
and  tea  in  my  cell  instead  of  going  to  the  supper  table.  Due  probably 
to  the  influence  of  the  Osborne  innovations  at  Sing  Sing  the  men 
at  the  Queens  Penitentiary  were  better  treated  than  the  women.  Their 
food  was  of  higher  quality  and  they  could  buy  tobacco  and  even 
newspapers.  The  sole  reading  matter  available  to  women  were  two 
Catholic  weeklies  and  the  Christian  Science  Monitor.  Our  only  other 
news  came  from  the  two  visitors  a  month  allowed.  So  fine  a  mesh 
screen  was  placed  in  the  reception  room  that  inmates  could  with  diffi- 
culty distinguish,  as  through  a  veil,  the  features  of  those  to  whom 
they  were  talking.  This  was  a  hardship  not  even  imposed  at  Sing 
Sing. 

After  morning  cell-cleaning  we  took  a  fifteen-minute  walk  in  the 
yard  with  our  hooded  capes  over  our  heads.  During  this  cold  tramp 
the  women  scanned  the  ground  avidly  for  butts  of  cigarettes  tossed 
away  by  the  men.  It  was  tragic  to  see  human  beings  forced  to  such 
a  low  level  as  to  dig  with  their  fingers  in  the  frozen  earth  to  retrieve 
these  mangled  stubs.  Each  used  to  grab  her  little  bit  and  hide  it. 

When  the  matron  went  to  her  lunch  we  were  locked  in  our  cor- 


THIS    PRISON    WHERE    I    LIVE  243 

ridors  but  not  in  our  cells.  Ordinarily  she  took  a  nap  afterwards, 
and  the  girls  could  usually  count  on  her  not  being  back  until  three 
or  perhaps  four  o'clock.  This  gave  them  an  opportunity  to  dry  their 
shreds  of  tobacco  under  the  radiator,  then  wrap  them  in  toilet  paper 
ready  for  smoking.  At  night  when  we  were  all  locked  in  they  struck 
the  steel  ribs  from  their  corsets  against  the  stone  floor,  and  thus 
ignited  pieces  of  cotton  to  give  them  lights.  I  could  see  tiny  glowing 
points  in  the  darkness  as  they  puffed  away  greedily. 

Somehow,  with  the  ingenuity  born  of  necessity,  these  women  also 
managed  to  have  smuggled  in  to  them  occasional  small  news  items. 
The  first  day  one  of  the  girls  approached  me  and  in  a  stage  whisper  de- 
manded, "Cross  your  heart  and  hope  to  die  you  won't  tell." 

I  crossed' my  heart  and  hoped  to  die. 

She  slipped  into  my  hand  a  short  clipping  about  my  trial.  Appar- 
ently others  had  been  keeping  up  with  events,  because  a  few  minutes 
later  Lisa,  a  little  colored  girl,  called  out,  "You'se  eats,  don't  yer?" 

A  third  asked  me  to  explain  to  them  what  "sex  hygiene"  was  all 
about.  Accordingly  I  sought  permission  of  Mrs.  Sullivan  to  be  al- 
lowed in  their  corridor  during  her  dinner  hour. 

"What  for?" 

"The  girls  want  me  to  tell  them  about  sex  hygiene." 

"Ah,  gwan  wid  ye,"  she  laughed.  "They  know  bad  enough  al- 
ready." 

Some  of  the  most  lovely-looking  girls  were  drug  addicts.  It  seemed 
monstrous  that  the  State  could  take  such  liberties  with  human  lives 
as  to  convict  them  as  criminals  and  sentence  them  to  as  much  as  three 
years  for  something  which  should  have  been  considered  disease. 

Other  women  were  pickpockets,  embezzlers,  prostitutes,  keepers 
of  brothels,  "Tiffany,"  or  high-class  thieves,  accomplices  of  safe 
blowers,  and  a  few  "transatlantic  flyers,"  who  assisted  in  big  hauls 
from  Paris  or  London. 

The  class  snobbishness  among  the  offenders  interested  me  beyond 
words.  No  one  cared  how  or  where  another  had  been  reared,  what 
kind  of  family  background  or  education  she  had;  the  nature  of  her 
offense  was  the  key  to  her  social  position.  The  one  who  picked  pockets 
was  scorned  by  the  girl  who  helped  herself  to  pearl  or  diamond  neck- 
laces; the  shoplifter  did  not  "sell  her  body." 


244  MARGARET   SANGER 

The  prisoners  sometimes  slid  their  arms  in  mine  as  we  paced 
along  in  the  yard.  One  took  me  to  task.  "I  saw  you  walking  with 
Gracie.  You  mustn't  associate  with  her." 

"Why  not?" 

"Do  you  know  what  she's  in  here  for?  She's  a  petty  thief.  When- 
ever she  gets  out  she  rides  in  street  cars  and  steals  money  from  the 
pocketbooks  of  poor  people  going  to  pay  their  rent,  or  women  com- 
ing home  with  their  husbands'  wages." 

"And  what  are  you  here 'for?" 

"Oh,  I  steal  from  the  rich;  I  take  only  from  people  who  have 
jewelry  and  bank  accounts." 

I  never  did  the  regular  work  of  cleaning,  not  even  my  own  cell. 
Nor  was  I  sent  into  the  workshop  to  sew  or  to  operate  the  machines 
with  the  others.  When  I  asked  Mrs.  Sullivan  why,  she  replied  jollily, 
"Oh,  you  look  better  over  there  with  a  pen  in  your  hand." 

She  had  fixed  up  a  table  to  serve  as  a  desk,  and  there  I  sat  the 
entire  day  with  my  papers  and  books,  planning  ahead  and  reading 
countless  letters ;  the  tenor  of  all  was  much  like  this  from  Sarah  Gold- 
stein : 

The  women  here  in  Brownsville  need  help  very  bad.  Mrs.  Sanger 
has  got  put  away  in  the  penitentiary  for  being  friends  with  us,  but 
she  said  we  was  to  use  her  place  while  she  was  gone.  If  we  can  have 
a  meeting  over  here  in  the  clinic,  I  will  put  a  fire  in  the  stove  and  ask 
the  women  to  come  Saturday. 

We  women  here  want  to  find  out  what  the  President,  the  Mayor, 
and  the  Judges  and  everybody  is  trying  to  do.  First  they  put  Mrs. 
Sanger  in  jail  for  telling  us  women  how  not  to  have  any  more  children, 
and  then  they  get  busy  for  the  starve  of  the  ones  we've  got.  First 
they  take  the  meat  and  the  egg,  then  the  potato,  the  onion,  and  the 
milk,  and  now  the  lentils  and  the  butter,  and  the  children  are  living 
on  bread  and  tea  off  the  tea  leaves  that  is  kept  cooking  on  the  back 
of  the  stove. 

Honest  to  God,  we  ought  to  call  a  meeting  and  do  something 
about  it. 

Part  of  my  time  also  was  devoted  to  helping  some  of  the  girls  to 
read  or  to  write  the  two  letters  a  month  permitted  them.  I  had  not 
believed  that  any  American-born  of  sixteen  to  eighteen  years  of  age 
could  be  illiterate,  but  there  were  at  least  ten. 


THIS   PRISON    WHERE   I   LIVE  245 

I  had  been  in  the  penitentiary  for  several  days  before  I  noticed  a 
tall,  erect  woman  with  white  hair  and  a  face  which  obviously  did  not 
belong  there ;  I  had  never  seen  her  in  the  yard  or  at  table.  Although 
she  had  been  over  nine  months  sharing  the  other  prisoners'  food  and 
working  beside  them  she  had  not  become  one  of  them.  Because  of 
her  aloofness  I  found  it  hard  to  make  her  acquaintance,  but  ultimately 
"the  Duchess,"  as  she  was  called,  told  me  her  story. 

After  having  been  a  teacher  for  fifteen  years,  she  had  married  a 
minister  who  lived  on  a  pension.  They  stayed  in  hotels,  always  spend- 
ing more  than  their  income,  while  he  steadily  drew  on  his  insurance 
money.  His  sudden  death  left  her  practically  penniless.  Due  to  her 
age  and  the  fact  she  had  not  taught  for  so  long  her  application  for 
a  teacher's  job  was  refused.  She  continued  in  the  hotel  until  she  had 
used  up  everything  and  was  forced  to  move.  Thereafter,  she  went 
from  hotel  to  hotel,  fleeing  each  time  angry  looks  and  bills;  finally 
she  was  arrested  and  given  an  indeterminate  sentence  of  from  one 
to  three  years. 

Her  constant  brooding  over  her  past  was  not  preparing  her  for 
any  future.  I  suggested  she  might  keep  her  hand  in  by  instructing 
the  illiterate  girls,  and  asked  J.J.,  my  only  visitor,  to  have  his  friend 
William  Spinney  send  some  primers  and  lower  grade  text-books  from 
Henry  Holt  and  Company  where  he  worked;  this  was  done  free  of 
charge.  The  Duchess  was  contentedly  happy  from  the  day  she  began 
teaching  again. 

In  the  desire  to  learn  whether  the  girls'  background  might  not  be 
related  to  the  causes  of  their  imprisonment,  I  asked  Warden  McCann 
whether  I  could  see  the  records,  especially  as  to  the  size  of  the  families 
from  which  they  came.  He  said  it  was  against  the  rules,  but  he  was 
willing  to  give  me  such  facts  separately,  assuring  me  I  was  going 
to  be  surprised  and  disappointed.  I  was. 

When  I  inquired,  "How  many  brothers  and  sisters  does  Rosie 
have?"  the  answer  was,  "None." 

"And  Marie?" 

"She  had  a  brother,  but  he's  dead." 

It  appeared  from  the  entries  that  all  these  women  had  been  single 
children  or,  if  a  brother  or  sister  had  been  born,  he  or  she  no  longer 
survived.  This  was  difficult  to  believe,  but  I  had  to  accept  it  at  first. 


246  MARGARET    SANGER 

However,  when  I  became  better  acquainted  with  the  old-timers 
they  told  me  quite  a  different  history.  The  registers  were  merely  evi- 
dence of  the  unwritten  rule  among  them  to  keep  their  families  out 
of  it. 

The  madam  of  a  house  of  assignation  was  putting  her  daughter 
of  seventeen  through  a  fashionable  boarding  school.  To  prevent  the 
child  from  knowing  anything  about  her  occupation  she  wrote  letters, 
sent  them  West,  where  she  was  supposed  to  be  traveling,  and  had  them 
redirected  to  the  school.  Many  other  prisoners  were  mothers  also, 
and  the  scheming  and  planning  to  hide  the  painful  knowledge  of  their 
whereabouts  was  worthy  of  the  deepest  admiration. 

One  after  another  admitted  she  had  given  false  statements  to  save 
her  relatives  from  disgrace  or  constant  annoyance  by  the  police.  The 
result  of  a  poll  of  the  thirty-one  in  our  corridor  showed  an  average 
of  seven  children  to  each  girl's  family. 

I  was  always  interested  to  know  why  the  pretty  ones  were  there. 
Frances,  one  of  the  loveliest,  had  a  radiant  color,  rosebud  mouth, 
and  the  most  innocent  eyes;  she  even  managed  to  wear  her  apron 
with  a  Gallic  chic.  It  did  not  seem  possible  she  could  have  committed 
a  crime,  but  she  turned  out  to  be  one  of  the  rogues  who  made  a  prac- 
tice of  frequenting  gatherings  where  careless  people  offered  opportu- 
nities to  pickpockets.  She  told  me  how  she,  with  two  other  girls,  had 
once  gone  to  an  up-State  fair.  After  making  a  grand  haul  of  watches 
and  purses  and  anything  they  could  lay  their  hands  upon,  her  two  com- 
panions said,  "We've  got  enough.  We're  clearing  out." 

But  Frances  had  spotted  an  easy-looking  wallet.  It  was  not  quite 
easy  enough.  Unfortunately  for  her  the  owner  shouted,  "Somebody's 
stolen  my  money!" 

A  bystander  pointed,  "She  did  it.  I've  been  in  three  places  today 
where  things  have  been  lost,  and  she's  been  there  every  time." 

Other  people  gathered  round.  Frances  began  to  cry.  Because  the 
friends  of  the  man  who  had  been  robbed  and  he  himself  insisted  she 
must  be  arrested  the  police  were  called. 

Frances  continued  to  weep  until  several  lusty  young  farmers  were 
ready  to  defy  her  accusers.  How  could  they  say  such  things  about 
such  a  sweet  girl!  It  looked  as  though  a  fight  were  imminent,  and 


THIS   PRISON    WHERE   I   LIVE  247 

she  hoped  to  slip  away  during  the  excitement.  But  the  police  arrived 
too  soon  and  took  her  to  the  station.  They  found  nothing  on  her; 
somehow  she  had  rid  herself  of  the  wallet. 

Frances'  new-found  allies  were  ready  to  go  her  bail,  but  it  so  hap- 
pened that  a  police  chief  from  a  neighboring  town  who  had  come 
to  the  fair  for  the  express  purpose  of  identifying  possible  petty  crimi- 
nals recognized  her  from  his  sheaf  of  photographs  of  habitual  offend- 
ers. He  said  to  her  supporters,  "Boys,  you're  crazy.  This  girl's  as 
crooked  as  a  snake.  Here's  her  picture !" 

"Why,  you're  crazy  yourself !  Your  girl's  a  blonde,  and  this  one's 
dark." 

The  chief  snatched  at  Frances'  hair,  and  off  came  her  wig.  As  she 
told  me  this  great  joke  on  herself  she  shook  with  merriment. 

But  this  was  not  the  end  of  the  story.  The  station  captain  had  been 
influenced  by  her  attractiveness  and,  since  the  wallet  had  not  actually 
been  discovered  on  her,  wanted  to  let  her  off.  He  made  a  compromise. 
"I'm  going  to  give  you  a  ticket  to  Montreal.  You  either  go  to  jail 
or  take  it  and  get  out." 

She  accepted  the  ticket,  but  left  the  train  at  a  near-by  point  and 
rejoined  her  friends  at  another  fair.  There,  wearing  a  different  cos- 
tume, she  continued  her  trade.  Although  to  look  at  her  ingenuous 
face  I  could  hardly  believe  it,  pitting  her  wits  against  the  police  was 
to  her  a  type  of  game. 

Gertrude  had  been  equally  clever.  She  was  of  German  origin,  very 
stylish,  moving  in  good  circles  when  not  in  prison.  She  had  learned 
that  the  officers  of  the  submarine,  Deutschland,  which  had  just 
crossed  the  ocean,  were  to  be  entertained  at  a  party.  Having  secured 
an  invitation,  she  devoted  herself  to  a  lieutenant  who,  she  had  dis- 
covered, was  carrying  seven  hundred  dollars  in  his  pocket.  When 
the  gathering  broke  up  she  took  him  back  to  his  hotel  in  her  car, 
suggesting  they  stop  at  a  night  club  en  route.  There  she  put  a  drug 
in  his  glass.  It  took  a  bit  of  time  to  work,  but  after  they  had  started 
on  again  he  fell  asleep.  She  gave  five  dollars  to  the  doorman  to  take 
him  to  his  room,  saying  he  had  drunk  a  bit  too  much,  and  then  went 
home. 

At  seven  the  following  morning,  while  Gertrude  and  her  little  girl 


248  MARGARET    SANGER 

were  still  in  bed,  the  police  raided  her  apartment.  They  could  unearth 
nothing  except  what  she  could  honestly  account  for.  Her  effects  were 
turned  upside  down,  and  still  no  money  was  to  be  found. 

"Then  how  could  they  send  you  to  jail?"  I  queried.  "You  didn't 
take  it,  did  you  ?" 

"Of  course  I  did,"  she  asserted,  looking  at  me  as  if  I  were  dull- 
witted.  "They  couldn't  pin  it  on  me,  that's  all." 

Even  though  Gertrude  had  been  brighter  than  the  police,  she,  like 
many  of  the  others,  had  been  convicted  on  her  past  record  and  the 
present  suspicious  circumstances. 

Josephine  was  another  case  in  point.  After  I  myself  had  been  re- 
leased I  had  her  paroled  under  her  own  recognizance  and  secured  a 
place  for  her  as  chambermaid  in  a  hotel.  Fate  so  arranged  that  in 
the  very  first  room  she  entered  on  her  first  morning's  work  she  was 
confronted  with  the  corpse  of  a  man  who  had  died  in  his  bed  during 
the  night.  She  rushed  out  immediately,  got  drunk,  and  went  directly 
back  to  jail  again. 

The  resentment  thus  engendered  in  these  caged  women  was  like 
a  strong,  glowing  flame,  of  a  depth  that  I  scarcely  had  believed  pos- 
sible. The  shivers  ran  up  and  down  my  back  when  I  heard  the  details 
of  their  unguided  and  loveless  childhoods,  which  explained  in  large 
part  the  curious  manner  in  which  their  minds  worked.  They  thought 
only  in  terms  of  getting  away  with  their  crimes,  of  beating  the  system 
— although  their  presence  here  was  proof  that  it  could  not  be  beaten. 
Three  of  the  younger  girls,  too  old  for  Bedford  Reformatory  but 
almost  too  young  for  the  penitentiary,  definitely  shocked  me  with 
their  plans  for  wrong-doing  without  being  apprehended.  They  asked 
me  about  my  case.  "Was  it  true  the  judge  gave  you  a  chance  not  to 
go  to  jail  if  you'd  promise  not  to  break  the  law?" 

"Yes." 

"Well,  why  didn't  you  do  it?" 

"I  couldn't  promise  that." 

"But  you  didn't  have  to  keep  your  promise!" 

The  ever-present  bitterness  arose,  not  from  being  caught  in  the 
act,  but  from  being  convicted  without  having  been,  according  to  their 
own  belief,  proved  guilty.  It  was  the  woeful  mental  attitude  rather 
than  the  actual  physical  condition  of  their  imprisonment  which  so 


THIS    PRISON    WHERE   I    LIVE  249 

appalled  me.  Not  one  of  them  intended  to  go  straight.  They  hated  the 
police  who  were  drawing  good  salaries  from  the  State  and  getting 
credit  for  putting  them  in  jail ;  yet  all  the  time  they  had  been  smarter. 
This  sounds  inconsistent,  but  it  was  their  peculiar  psychological  twist. 

I  talked  it  over  later  with  several  judges  to  whom  it  was  rather 
a  new  point  of  view.  Among  other  cases  I  cited  that  of  a  brothel 
keeper  who  conducted  her  house  as  a  club  and  did  it  so  carefully  that 
no  evidence  could  be  obtained  against  her.  Therefore,  a  detective  had 
put  opium  in  the  plumbing  and  she  had  been  sentenced  on  a  narcotic 
charge,  although  it  was  well  known  this  was  not  her  offense. 

"The  prisoners  were  guilty,  weren't  they?"  said  one  of  the  judges. 
"You  know  that,  don't  you?" 

"Yes,"  I  rejoined,  "but  to  my  mind  that  doesn't  end  the  State's 
responsibility.  It  seems  to  me  your  detectives  should  be  more  intel- 
ligent than  the  criminals  they  are  set  to  catch." 

The  girls  at  Queens  Penitentiary  were  unaware  they  were  entitled 
to  bring  a  far  more  serious  charge  against  society  than  clumsy  and 
inept  police  methods.  I  have  never  since  visited  an  institution  for 
juvenile  offenders  without  thinking  how  stupid  people  are  not  to 
recognize  that  most  adolescents  are  subjected  to  temptation  on  some 
occasion  or  other;  that  anyone,  in  an  emotional  fragment  of  time, 
when  young  and  when  the  consequences  are  not  clear,  may  do  some 
forbidden  thing.  More  often  than  not  it  is  merely  incidental,  and  in 
no  way  warrants  a  life  of  penance. 

The  only  brutal  treatment  I  received  was  during  the  last  two  hours. 
Since  my  fingerprints  had  not  been  taken  on  arrival,  Warden  McCann 
first  tried  to  talk  me  into  compliance.  His  argument  that  all  prisoners' 
prints  must  be  on  file,  that  not  having  them  was  unheard  of,  got  us 
nowhere.  I  refused  to  submit,  even  though  it  postponed  my  release. 
He  then  turned  me  over  to  two  keepers.  One  held  me,  the  other  strug- 
gled with  my  arms,  trying  to  force  my  fingers  down  on  the  inkpad.  I 
do  not  know  from  what  source  I  drew  my  physical  strength,  but  I 
managed  to  prevent  my  hands  from  touching  it.  My  arms  were  bruised 
and  I  was  weak  and  exhausted  when  an  officer  at  headquarters,  where 
J.  J.  was  protesting  against  the  delay,  telephoned  an  order  to  discharge 
me  without  the  usual  ceremony. 

March  6,  191 7,  dawned  a  bitter,  stinging  morning.  Through  the 


25O  MARGARET    SANGER 

metal  doors  I  stepped,  and  the  tingling  air  beat  against  my  face.  No 
other  experience  in  my  life  has  been  like  that.  Gathered  in  front  were 
my  old  friends  who  had  frozen  through  the  two  hours  waiting  to 
celebrate  "Margaret's  coming  out  party."  They  lifted  their  voices  in 
the  Marseillaise.  Behind  them  at  the  upper  windows  were  my  new 
friends,  the  women  with  whom  I  had  spent  the  month,  and  they  too 
were  singing.  Something  choked  me.  Something  still  chokes  me  when- 
ever I  hear  that  triumphant  music  and  ringing  words,  "Ye  sons  of 
freedom  wake  to  glory !" 

I  plunged  down  the  stairs  and  into  the  car  which  stood  ready  for 
me,  and  we  swept  out  of  the  yard  towards  my  apartment.  At  the  en- 
trance were  Vito,  the  coal  man,  and  his  wife,  beaming  and  proudly 
pointing  to  the  blazing  fire  they  had  made  on  the  hearth  to  welcome 
me  home. 


Chapter  Twenty 


A  STOUT  HEART  TO  A  STEEP  HILL 


"When  a  thing  ceases  to  be  a  subject  of  controversy,  it  ceases 
to  be  a  subject  of  interest." 

WILLIAM   HAZLITT 


-\\\  -VA  ->\>  .>Vl  -Vft  -Vft  -Vft  -Vft  -X\V  ,\\>  ->V\  -VV\  -NVS    fff,  fff,  fff-  fff,  ftf,  ft>f-  ///,   tft.  fff.  ft*,  /ft.  iff,  w. 

ttw  Hi  'tit  Hi  Hi  'Hi  'tit  Hi  'Hi  Hi  tit  tii  /it  VW  VW  VW  wr  VSSr  WSr  V\\   VvV  IW  VSS?  VV\*  V\V'  VW 

THE  noisy  clamor  of  the  world  could  not  reach  me  through  thick 
stone  walls ;  prison  had  been  a  quiet  interim  for  reflection,  for 
assembling  past  experiences  and  preparing  for  the  future.  The  tem- 
pestuous season  of  agitation — courts  and  jails  and  shrieking  and 
thumbing-the-nose — should  now  end.  Heretofore  there  had  been  much 
notoriety  and  but  little  understanding.  The  next  three  steps  were  to 
be:  first,  education;  then,  organization;  and,  finally,  legislation.  All 
were  clearly  differentiated,  though  they  necessarily  overlapped  to  a 
certain  extent. 

I  based  my  program  on  the  existence  in  the  country  of  a  forceful 
sentiment  which,  if  co-ordinated,  could  become  powerful  enough  to 
change  laws.  Horses  wildly  careering  around  a  pasture  have  as  much 
-strength  as  when  harnessed  to  a  plow,  but  only  in  the  latter  case  can 
the  strength  be  measured  and  turned  to  some  useful  purpose.  The  pub- 
lic had  to  be  educated  before  it  could  be  organized  and  before  the  laws 
could  be  changed  as  a  result  of  that  organization.  I  set  myself  to  the 
task.  It  was  to  be  a  long  one,  because  the  press  did  not  want  articles 
stating  the  facts  of  birth  control ;  they  wanted  news,,  and  to  them  news 
still  consisted  of  fights,  police,  arrests,  controversy. 

One  of  the  early  essays  in  education  was  a  moving  picture  drama- 
tizing the  grim  and  woeful  life  of  the  East  Side.  Both  Blossom  and  I 
believed  it  would  have  value,  and  I  continue  to  be  of  the  same  mind. 
He  had  not  approved  of  the  clinic  and  had  declined  to  have  anything 
to  do  with  it,  but  was  eager  to  join  me  in  capitalizing  on  the  ensuing 

251 


252  MARGARET   SANGER 

publicity.  Together  we  wrote  a  scenario  of  sorts,  concluding  with  the 
trial.  Although  I  had  long  since  lost  faith  in  my  abilities  as  an  actress, 
I  played  the  part  of  the  nurse,  and  an  associate  of  Blossom's  financed 
its  production.  But  before  it  could  appear  Commissioner  of  Licenses 
George  H.  Bell  ordered  it  suppressed. 

To  prove  the  film  mirrored  conditions  which  called  for  birth  con- 
trol, we  gave  a  private  showing  at  a  theater,  inviting  some  two  hundred 
people  concerned  with  social  welfare.  All  agreed  the  public  should  see 
it,  and  signed  a  letter  to  that  effect.  Justice  Nathan  Bijur  issued  an 
injunction  against  interfering  with  its  presentation.  The  moving  pic- 
ture theaters,  however,  fearful  lest  the  breath  of  censure  wither  their 
profits,  were  too  timid  to  take  advantage  of  this. 

Of  infinitely  greater  and  more  lasting  significance  than  this  venture 
was  the  Birth  Control  Review,  which,  from  191 7  to  1921,  was  the 
spearhead  in  the  educational  stage.  It  could  introduce  a  quieter  and 
more  scientific  tone,  and  also  enable  me  to  keep  in  touch  with  people 
everywhere  whose  interest  had  already  been  evoked.  Emotion  was  not 
enough;  ideas  were  not  enough;  facts  were  what  we  needed  so  that 
leaders  of  opinion  who  were  articulate  and  willing  to  speak  out  might 
have  authoritative  data  to  back  them  up. 

The  first  issue  of  the  Review,  prepared  beforehand,  had  come  out 
in  February,  191 7,  while  I  was  in  the  penitentiary.  It  was  not  a  very 
good  magazine  then ;  it  had  few  contributors  and  no  editorial  policy. 
Anyone — sculptor,  spiritualist,  cartoonist,  poet,  free  lances — could  ex- 
press himself  here ;  the  pages  were  open  to  all.  In  some  ways  it  was 
reminiscent  of  the  old  days  of  the  Woman  Rebel,  when  everybody 
used  to  lend  a  hand — always  with  this  vital  difference,  that  we  held 
strictly  to  education  instead  of  agitation.  I  had  learned  a  little  editorial 
knowledge  from  my  previous  magazine  efforts  and  now  obtained  a 
more  professional  touch  from  the  newspaper  men  and  women  who 
gradually  came  in,  among  them  William  E.  Williams,  formerly  of  the 
Kansas  City  Star,  Walter  A.  Roberts,  who  later  published  the  few 
issues  of  the  American  Parade,  and  Rob  Parker,  editor  and  make-up 
man.  Among  the  associates  were  Jessie  Ashley,  Mary  Knoblauch,  and 
Agnes  Smedley. 

That  extraordinarily  shy  and  mysterious  woman,  Agnes  Smedley, 
had  been  born  in  a  covered  wagon  of  squatter  parents,  and,  though  she 


A   STOUT    HEART   TO   A    STEEP    HILL  253 

had  become  a  teacher  in  the  California  public  schools,  her  early  habits 
of  thought  remained  with  her ;  she  was  consistently  for  the  under  dog. 
The  British  Government  had  suspected  her  of  connection  with  the 
seditious  activities  of  a  group  of  Hindu  students  and  persuaded  the 
Federal  authorities  to  investigate.  All  they  had  been  able  to  find  on 
which  to  charge  her  were  a  few  copies  of  Family  Limitation.  This 
brought  her  within  our  province,  and  when  she  was  arraigned  in  New 
York  John  Haynes  Holmes  procured  her  ten-thousand-dollar  bail. 
After  her  acquittal  she  worked  with  us  at  various  times  until  she  left 
for  post-War  Germany. 

On  this  and  other  occasions  John  Haynes  Holmes,  a  speaker  second 
to  none,  brought  the  convincing  force  of  his  arguments  and  mind  to 
our  aid.  By  the  shape  of  his  head  and  the  honesty  of  his  eyes  you  could 
recognize  the  practical  idealist  in  this  Unitarian  minister.  He  never 
straddled  issues.  During  the  War  he  said  if  one  flag  were  to  be  hung 
out  his  church  windows,  then  those  of  all  nations  should  be  flown; 
no  peoples  were  enemies  of  his. 

Two  numbers  of  the  Review  had  appeared  when  the  United  States 
entered  the  War  and  Blossom  and  I  fell  out.  He  was  an  ardent  Franco- 
phile and,  like  most  masculine  members  of  the  intelligentsia,  threw  in 
his  lot  with  the  Allies.  I  wrote  a  pacifist  editorial ;  he  refused  to  run 
it  and  resigned. 

To  Blossom,  as  to  so  many  others,  pacifism  was  automatically  la- 
beled pro-Germanism,  on  the  old  theory  that  "he  who  is  not  for  me 
is  against  me."  I  had  already  seen  in  Europe  what  propaganda  could 
do  to  build  up  a  war  spirit,  and  prayed  every  morning  when  I  awoke 
that  I  could  keep  my  head  clear  and  cool.  I  had  heard  the  plaintive 
pleas  of  French  mothers,  but  had  talked  also  with  German  mothers. 
In  the  hearts  of  none  had  there  been  hatred  or  desire  for  their  sons 
to  kill  other  sons. 

I  knew  what  I  thought  about  the  War ;  it  was  so  outrageous  I  would 
not  be  mixed  up  in  it.  I  still  believe  it  was  not  only  a  dreadful  thing 
in  itself — a  slaughter  and  waste  of  human  life — but,  even  more  dis- 
astrous, it  exterminated  those  who  ought  now  to  be  ruling  our  na- 
tional destinies  according  to  the  pre- War  liberality  of  thought  in  which 
they  had  been  reared.  We  started  at  that  time  to  walk  backwards  in- 
stead of  forwards,  and  have  retreated  steadily  ever  since.  A  fear  of 


254  MARGARET    SANGER 

expressing  opinions  which  then  began  to  seep  in  has  gradually  helped 
to  impose  censorship  and  further  intolerance. 

I  was  neither  pro-Ally  nor  pro-German  but,  using  common  sense, 
was  distressed  at  seeing  German  achievements  torn  into  shreds.  In- 
telligence in  Germany  had  been  focused  on  all  fronts;  she  had  the 
lowest  illiteracy  of  any  country  and  had  invested  heavily  in  mass  edu- 
cation from  which  the  rest  of  the  world  was  benefiting  at  little  cost. 
She  had  offered  the  best  training  for  graduate  students  in  medicine ; 
foreign  travel  had  been  accelerated  by  German  linguists;  commerce 
had  been  able  to  carry  on  international  contacts  through  German  inter- 
preters ;  any  foreign  industry  which  had  needed  technical  advice  had 
usually  employed  a  German  scientist,  engineer,  or  chemist  who  knew 
how  to  do  his  job  and  do  it  well.  Germany  could  not  continue  this 
policy  without  wanting  to  receive  some  tangible  return. 

I  was  convinced  the  primary  cause  of  this  war  lay  in  the  terrific 
pressure  of  population  in  Germany.  To  be  sure,  her  birth  rate  had 
recently  begun  to  decline,  but  her  death  rate,  particularly  infant  mor- 
tality, had,  through  applied  medical  science,  likewise  been  brought 
far  down.  The  German  Government  had  to  do  something  about  the 
increase  of  her  people.  Underneath  her  rampant  militarism,  under- 
neath her  demand  for  colonies  was  this  drivings  economic  force.  She 
could  hold  no  more,  and  had  to  burst  her  bounds. 

Blossom's  defection  was  one  of  the  heart-breaking  things  that  can 
creep  into  any  endeavor,  even  the  most  idealistic.  I  have  seen  so  many 
young  crusaders  come  galloping  to  show  me  the  way,  joining  the 
procession  and  blowing  horns  for  "The  Cause,"  panting  with  en- 
thusiasm to  reform  the  world,  willing  to  teach  me  how  to  put  the 
movement  on  a  "social"  or  "sound  practical  and  economic"  basis. 
They  were  going  to  get  vast  contributions  so  that  money  would  roll 
unceasingly  into  our  coffers.  But  if  they  lacked  the  necessary  patience 
and  forbearance,  or  were  there  for  personal  aggrandizement,  they 
became  discouraged  at  the  first  show  of  thorny,  disagreeable  ob- 
stacles, retreating  or  deserting  rather  than  fighting  through. 

In  the  birth  control  movement  supporters  have  come  and  gone. 
When  they  remained  they  found  work,  work,  work,  and  little  recog- 
nition, reward,  or  gratitude.  Those  who  desired  honor  or  recompense, 


A   STOUT    HEART   TO   A    STEEP    HILL  255 

or  who  measured  their  interest  by  this  yardstick,  are  no  longer  here. 
It  is  no  place  for  anything  except  the  boundless  love  of  giving.  Blos- 
som was  the  first  illustration  to  me  that  the  ones  to  whom  authority 
is  handed  over  are  likely  to  expand  and  explode  unless  they  have  self- 
lessly  dedicated  themselves. 

.Now,  I  believe  the  three  chief  tests  to  character  are  sudden  power,  .j 
sudden  wealtlj,  and  sudden  publicity.  Few  can  stand  the  latter ;  nothing 
goes  to  the  head  with  more  violence.  Seeing  this  all  around  me,  I  did 
not  subscribe  to  a  clipping  bureau  until  it  seemed  necessary  for  his- 
torical purposes.  I  did  not  even  read  the  papers  when  unsought  ad- 
vertisement was  great,  remembering  that  this  could  be  but  a  nine 
days'  wonder.  Furthermore,  news  items  were  often  distracting  be- 
cause the  facts  were  constantly  embroidered  just  to  make  a  good  story, 
to  paint  a  situation  according  to  the  policy  of  the  paper,  or  because 
they  reflected  the  inhibitions  of  the  reporters.  Hours  could  have  been 
entirely  given  over  to  denials  and  contradictions. 

In  the  midst  of  any  emergency  such  as  a  police  raid  or  the  stopping 
of  a  meeting  my  own  emotions  generally  kept  an  even  tenor ;  they  did 
not  go  hopping  up  and  down  like  a  temperature.  A  nurse  cannot  afford 
to  lose  her  head,  and  the  control  I  had  won  in  that  training  helped 
me,  as  did  also  my  father's  philosophy,  "Since  all  things  change,  this 
too  will  pass." 

Consequently,  during  this  feverish  period,  neither  public  praise  nor 
public  blame  affected  me  very  much,  although  the  type  of  criticism 
that  came  from  friends  was  different.  Just  because  they  were  friends 
and  I  wanted  them  to  understand,  I  was  unhappy  if  they  did  not.  But, 
since  persons  one  likes  can  have  great  influence  and  friendships  take 
time,  I  refrained  from  making  many  new  ones.  Nevertheless,  those 
I  had  then  are  as  good  today;  when  we  meet  we  pick  up  the  threads 
where  we  dropped  them. 

The  War  halted  the  progress  of  the  birth  control  movement  tem- 
porarily. The  groups  that  had  before  been  active  now  found  new  in- 
terests. The  radicals  were  convulsed  and  their  own  ranks  torn  in  two 
by  the  opposition  to  conscription.  Influenza  swept  over  the  world  and 
in  its  passage  took  off  many  of  our  old  companions.  Governor  Whit- 
man's promised  commission  blew  up.  One  bright  bugle  sounded  when 


256  MARGARET    SANGER 

I  learned  that  the  section  on  venereal  disease  in  What  Every  Girl 
Should  Know,  which  had  once  been  banned  in  the  New  York  Call  and 
for  which  Fania  had  been  fined,  was  now,  officially  but  without  credit, 
reprinted  and  distributed  among  the  soldiers  going  into  cantonments 
and  abroad.  At  home  all  felt  there  was  little  to  do  but  wait  until  people 
came  back  to  their  senses ;  the  Review  was  the  only  forward  step  I 
could  take  at  the  time. 

Late  in  191 7  a  new  recruit  was  enlisted.  Nobody  ever  knew  Kitty 
Marion's  true  name.  She  had  been  born  in  Westphalia,  Germany,  and 
when  she  was  fifteen  her  father  had  whipped  her  once  too  often  and 
she  had  run  away  to  England,  where  eventually  she  had  headed  a  turn 
at  a  music  hall. 

The  London  slums  had  aroused  Kitty's  social  conscience,  and  she 
had  abandoned  her  own  career  to  enroll  with  Mrs.  Pankhurst  in  the 
suffrage  crusade,  becoming  one  of  the  most  determined  of  her  fol- 
lowers. When  put  in  jail  she  set  fire  to  her  cell,  chewed  a  hole  in  her 
mattress,  broke  the  window,  and  upon  being  released  threw  bricks 
at  Newcastle  Post  Office.  Seven  times  she  went  to  prison,  enduring 
four  hunger  strikes  and  two  hundred  and  thirty-two  compulsory  feed- 
ings, biting  the  hand  that  forcibly  fed  her.  Since  it  was  distasteful  to 
the  Government  to  have  any  suffragette  die  in  prison,  Kitty,  under  the 
so-called  Cat-and-Mouse  Act,  was  once  released  to  a  nursing  home 
until  she  should  have  strength  enough  to  return  to  confinement.  Friends 
visited  her  there,  exchanged  clothes  with  her,  and  she  escaped.  On  an- 
other occasion  the  Bishop  of  London  personally  begged  her  to  give  up 
her  struggle.  At  the  outbreak  of  war,  the  Pankhurst  forces  hustled  her 
over  to  America  rather  than  have  her  run  the  almost  certain  risk  of 
deportation  or  internment. 

Selling  The  Suffragette  on  the  streets  of  London  had  been  part  of 
the  initiation  which  duchesses  and  countesses  and  other  noble  aux- 
iliaries to  the  Pankhurst  cause  had  had  to  undergo.  Kitty  had  stood 
side  by  side  with  them.  Since  we  had  so  experienced  a  veteran  ready 
for  service  we  began  to  offer  the  Review  on  the  sidewalks  of  New 
York.  Our  more  sober  supporters  objected  because  they  considered  it 
undignified.  But  men  and  women  from  here,  there,  and  everywhere 
passed  through  the  commercial  centers  of  New  York,  and  this  was  a 
real  means  of  reaching  them. 


A    STOUT    HEART    TO    A    STEEP    HILL  257 

All  of  us  took  a  hand,  but  Kitty  was  the  only  one  who  stood  the  test 
of  years.  Strong,  stoutish,  tow-headed,  her  blue  eyes  bright  and  keen 
in  spite  of  being  well  on  in  her  fifties,  she  became  a  familiar  sight. 
Morning,  afternoon,  and  until  midnight — workdays,  Sundays,  and 
holidays — through  storms  of  winter  and  summer,  she  tried  every 
street  corner  from  Macy's  to  the  Grand  Central  Terminal.  But  her 
favorite  stand  was  Seventh  Avenue  and  Forty-second  Street,  right 
at  Times  Square.  In  her  own  words  she  was  enjoying  "the  most  fas- 
cinating, the  most  comic,  the  most  tragic,  living,  breathing  movie  in 
the  world." 

Many  people  still  think  I  must  be  Kitty  Marion.  Everywhere  they 
say  to  me,  "I  saw  you  twenty  years  ago  outside  the  Metropolitan 
Opera  House.  You've  changed  so  I  wouldn't  know  you." 

Street  selling  was  torture  for  me,  but  I  sometimes  did  it  for  self- 
discipline  and  because  only  in  this  way  could  I  have  complete  knowl- 
edge of  what  I  was  asking  others  to  do.  In  addition,  I  learned  to  realize 
what  possible  irritations  Kitty  had  to  encounter.  Notwithstanding  the 
insults  of  the  ignorant,  the  censure  of  the  bigots,  she  remained  good- 
humored.  They  said  to  her,  "You  ought  to  be  ashamed  of  yourself, 
you  ought  to  be  arrested,  to  be  shot,  to  be  in  jail,  to  be  hanged !"  or, 
"It's  disgraceful,  disgusting,  scandalous,  villainous,  criminal,  and  un- 
ladylike !"  When  someone  asked,  "Have  you  never  heard  God's  word 
to  'be  fruitful  and  multiply  and  replenish  the  earth'  ?"  Kitty  replied, 
"They've  done  that  already,"  and,  knowing  her  Apocrypha  as  well  as 
her  Bible,  retorted  in  kind,  "Does  it  not  say  in  Ecclesiasticus :  16;  I, 
'Desire  not  a  multitude  of  unprofitable  children'  ?" 

During  the  War  it  was  astonishing  how  many  men,  in  and  out  of 
uniform,  mistook  Birth  Control  for  British  Control.  "We  don't  want 
no  British  Control  here !"  they  exclaimed.  Kitty  would  correct  them, 
"Birth  Control,"  and  someone  would  call,  "Oh,  that's  worse!" 

Who  bought  the  Review?  This  question  was  invariably  asked,  and 
the  answer  was — radicals,  the  curious,  girls  about  to  be  married, 
mothers,  fathers,  social  workers,  ministers,  physicians,  reformers,  rev- 
olutionaries, foreigners.  A  psychological  analysis  of  reactions  of 
passers-by  when  they  saw  the  words  "birth  control"  would  have  been 
interesting.  I  never  could  credit  the  power  those  simple  words  had  of 
upsetting  so  many  people.  Their  own  complexes  as  to  what  sex  meant 


*\ 


258  MARGARET    SANGER 

to  them  appeared  to  govern  them.  Many  were  disappointed  at  its  staid- 
ness ;  some  were  highly  indignant,  others  highly  amused,  regarding  it 
as  a  joke ;  some  bought  with  the  set  faces  of  soldiers  going  over  the  top ; 
some  looked  and  looked  and  then  strolled  on.  Others  walked  by  only  to 
return  with  the  money  ready,  hastily  stuff  the  magazine  in  their  pock- 
ets, and  move  away,  trying  to  seem  unconcerned.  The  majority  bought 
with  the  utmost  seriousness  in  the  hope  that  it  might  solve  their  per- 
sonal problems. 

"Jail"  was  the  instant  reaction  of  every  new  policeman  on  the  beat. 
Kitty,  who  knew  she  needed  no  license,  would  contest  the  point  with 
him  while  a  crowd  gathered.  But  few  of  her  arresters  were  familiar 
with  the  law  in  the  name  of  which  they  hauled  her  off  to  the  station. 
Time  and  again  my  night's  slumbers  were  broken  to  go  and  bail  her 
out.  J.J.  was  always  able  to  have  the  case  dismissed,  but  only  after  it 
had  been  argued  and  proved  in  our  favor. 

Once  Charles  Bamberger,  the  agent  provocateur  of  the  Society  for 
the  Suppression  of  Vice  who  had  brought  about  Bill  Sanger's  arrest, 
worked  much  the  same  ruse  on  Kitty.  His  society  was  supposedly  de- 
signed to  promote  purity,  which  was  to  its  members  synonymous  with 
good.  But  in  order  to  do  this  they  induced  people  to  break  the  law  by 
appealing  to  their  deepest  human  sympathies,  a  form  of  trickery  not 
to  be  condoned  by  any  moral  code. 

Bamberger,  on  repeated  visits  to  Kitty  at  our  office,  poignantly  de- 
scribed the  condition  of  his  unfortunate  wife  whose  health  depended 
absolutely  on  her  getting  contraceptive  information.  Anna's  sense, 
like  Fania  Mindell's,  was  unfailing  in  recognizing  such  decoys;  I 
never  went  against  it.  But  in  vain  did  she  warn  Kitty,  who  gave  him 
the  information.  He  had  her  arrested,  and  she  was  not  allowed  to  tell 
in  court  the  means  by  which  he  had  obtained  his  evidence ;  she  had  to 
serve  a  term.  Kitty's  sentence  did  not  have  adequate  publicity,  but 
so  violent  was  the  war  temper,  that,  in  view  of  her  German  birth,  even 
well-disposed  newspapers  practically  ignored  it. 

In  addition  to  selling  the  Review  we  tried  another  experiment  in 
street  propaganda.  During  the  warm  evenings  of  one  summer  Kitty, 
Helen  Todd,  and  I,  often  accompanied  by  George  Swazey,  a  friendly 
Englishman,  proceeded  to  the  neighborhood  of  St.  Nicholas  Avenue 


A   STOUT   HEART   TO   A    STEEP    HILL  259 

above  125th  Street,  where  many  white  collar  families  lived.  We  used 
to  buy  a  soapbox  at  the  nearest  delicatessen  and  Helen,  who  had  a 
lank,  swarthy  picturesqueness  which  attracted  attention,  mounted  it ; 
Swazey,  standing  behind,  held  aloft  an  American  flag.  Though  not  a 
soul  might  be  in  sight  except  our  little  group  with  its  bundles  of  litera- 
ture and  Kitty  with  her  Reviews,  Helen  began  in  her  beautiful  voice, 
"Ladies  and  Gentlemen,"  bowing  to  the  trees,  "we  welcome  you  here 
tonight."  When  nobody  appeared  she  began  again.  "Ladies  and  Gentle- 
men," and  this  time  one  or  two  strollers  usually  lingered.  Imme- 
diately we  raised  our  pasteboard  banners  with  "birth  control"  printed 
in  black  letters.  She  was  off  in  full  swing,  and  in  a  few  minutes  we  had 
our  audience. 

In  the  course  of  our  various  trials  people  had  sent  checks  and  made 
donations  to  the  special  Defense  Fund  account,  and  we  sent  anybody 
who  gave  money,  no  matter  how  much  or  how  little,  a  mimeographed 
report  of  all  contributors.  We  had  also  accepted  almost  two  thousand 
paid-in-advance  subscriptions,  and  had  therefore  incurred  an  obliga- 
tion to  continue  the  Review  for  twelve  months. 

One  May  morning  when  I  put  my  key  in  the  office  door  and  swung 
it  open,  Anna  Lifshiz  and  I  stood  and  gazed  at  each  other.  Only  the 
telephone  perched  forlornly  on  top  of  a  packing  box  relieved  the  bare 
and  empty  room — files,  furniture,  vouchers,  checks,  and  business  rec- 
ords were  gone.  We  still  had  to  supply  the  subscribers  with  nine  issues 
more,  yet  we  had  no  equipment  and  not  one  cent  in  the  bank  account 
of  the  Review. 

It  was  a  challenge.  We  hurried  over  to  Third  Avenue  and  for 
twenty  dollars  refurnished  the  office.  The  loss  of  the  contributors' 
cards,  however,  was  irreparable.  I  could  never,  in  spite  of  my  best 
efforts,  recover  either  them  or  the  missing  funds. 

The  strain  to  finance  the  Review  was  so  great  that  after  June  no 
more  issues  came  out  until  December — the  printer  trusted  us  as  far 
as  he  was  able  from  month  to  month.  Often  the  bank  account  was 
down  to  the  last  hundred  dollars,  just  enough  to  hold  it  open.  Yet  it 
might  be  necessary  to  mail  letters';  the  call  might  be  urgent.  I  was 
hesitant  to  spend  that  last  amount,  but  I  believed  faith  could  bring 
anything  to  realization.  Invariably  when  I  operated  on  that  principle 


260  MARGARET    SANGER 

and  did  what  I  was  impelled  to  do,  money  poured  in  perhaps  ten  times 
over.  Always  we  cleaned  the  slate  at  the  end  of  the  year. 

This  was  one  of  the  periods  of  getting  roots  in  and  waiting  for  the 
organism  to  grow,  of  quiescence  before  the  new  beginning  and  quick- 
ening. I  kept  going,  conscious  that  with  every  act  I  was  progressing  in 
accord  with  a  universal  law  of  evolution — moral  evolution  but  evolu- 
tion just  the  same. 

This  belief  seemed  at  times  to  force  locked  doors.  It  enabled  me  to 
dictate  hundreds  of  letters,  to  interview  dozens  of  people,  to  debate, 
or  to  lecture,  all  in  twenty- four  hours.  Day  after  day  I  attended  parlor 
meetings,  night  after  night  open  forums,  returning  home  too  tired  to 
eat,  too  excited  to  sleep.  Frequently  at  seven  in  the  morning  the  tele- 
phone started  ringing ;  somebody  wanted  to  catch  me  before  I  left  the 
house. 

For  the  purpose  of  having  a  more  solid  and  substantial  basis  on 
which  to  operate  the  Review,  the  New  York  Women's  Publishing 
Company  was  incorporated  in  May,  19 18;  shares  were  sold  at  ten 
dollars  each.  The  women  who  gave  both  monetary  and  moral  support 
were  the  wives  of  business  men  who  advised  them  how  to  conduct 
this  organization  in  the  proper  fashion.  Each  month  Mary  Knoblauch 
opened  her  charming  apartment  for  the  regular  meetings  any  cor- 
poration was  required  to  hold. 

The  movement  can  never  be  disassociated  in  my  mind  from  Frances 
Ackermann,  who,  at  the  suggestion  of  Mabel  Spinney  of  Greenwich 
House,  came  to  us  as  Treasurer.  She  was  exceptionally  able  and  was 
soon  one  of  our  bulwarks,  remaining  with  us  eleven  years.  Her  family 
was  wrapped  up  in  orthodoxy — church  and  Wall  Street  and  the  status 
quo  in  politics — but  Frances'  interests  were  much  broader,  and  she  was 
not  content  to  lead  the  usual  type  of  life  ordained  by  her  social  and 
financial  standing. 

Tall,  very  thin,  wearing  her  clothes  with  an  air,  Frances  was  one  of 
the  finest  persons  I  have  ever  known.  To  her,  fair  play  amounted  to  a 
religion ;  she  was  so  highly  sensitive  that  she  lay  awake  at  night  after 
merely  reading  of  an  injustice  done  to  anybody.  To  hundreds  of  con- 
scientious objectors  who  were  incarcerated  during  the  War  because 
of  pacifist  or  strike  activities  she  sent  cigarette  money,  magazines, 
stationery — always  anonymously — assisting  their  families  and  sug- 


A    STOUT    HEART    TO    A    STEEP    HILL  26 1 

gesting  plans  for  their  own  futures.  Her  death  was  not  only  a  blow 
to  us  but  a  blow  to  any  endeavor  that  was  seeking  understanding. 
Many  lifers  who  depended  on  her  for  brightening  luxuries  must  now 
wonder  what  has  become  of  her. 

In  1920  Anne  Kennedy  came  to  help  boost  the  circulation  of  the 
Review  and  gain  further  financial  aid  for  it.  She,  was  a  Calif ornian 
with  wide  club  experience,  and  had  two  children.  Fair,  in  her  thir- 
ties, cheerful,  and  a  good  mixer,  she  was  most  maternal-looking 
with  her  soft  gray  hair  and  sweet  face ;  you  felt  you  could  lay  your 
head  on  her  bosom  and  tell  her  the  story  of  your  life. 

The  incorporation  had  heralded  a  new  trend  wherein  we  could 
have  a  recognized  policy.  When  the  Review  had  first  been  started  I  had 
had  to  beg  authors  to  write.  Free  speech  was  their  favorite  theme, 
and  their  pieces  were  inferior,  but  they  were  the  only  things  I  could 
fall  back  upon.  I  used  to  ask  possible  contributors,  "Don't  you  agree 
that  these  poor  mothers  should  have  no  more  babies  ?" 

"Of  course,  but  where's  there  any  article  in  that?" 

Then  I  had  to  suggest  ideas,  show  them  how  to  link  these  up 
with  larger  sociological  aspects,  until  they  began  to  cast  into  the 
arena  legal,  medical,  eugenic  compositions.  The  material  on  free 
speech  continued  to  come  in,  but  we  did  not  need  to  print  it  any  longer. 

Incidentally,  we  now  secured  second-class  mailing  privileges.  Soon 
afterwards  I  happened  to  be  talking  to  a  cousin  who  worked  in  the 
Post  Office,  a  very  young  boy  in  his  early  twenties,  who  kept  assailing 
me  with  questions  about  the  Review.  I  could  not  understand  his  un- 
precedented interest,  and  asked,  "Why  are  you  so  curious  ?" 

"Well,  I'm  the  official  reader.  It'll  save  my  having  to  wade  through 
every  issue  if  you'll  tell  me  ahead  of  time  just  what  your  policy's 
going  to  be." 

"Do  you  make  the  decisions?" 

"That's  my  job.  If  any  seem  objectionable  I  send  them  on  to  Wash- 
ington." 

I  was  horrified  to  find  this  adolescent  in  a  position  which  permitted 
him  to  pass  judgment  on  such  serious  matters,  but  I  was  able  to  re- 
assure him ;  the  course  we  had  adopted  would  in  no  way  interfere  with 
retaining  our  second-class  mailing  privileges. 

Many  of  the  buyers  of  the  Review  had  been  disappointed  because 


262  MARGARET    SANGER 

it  contained  no  practical  information.  "I  have  your  magazine.  All  in 
there  is  true  but  what  I  want  to  know  is  how  not  to  have  another  baby 
next  year."  Thousands  of  letters  were  sent  out  explaining  that  the 
Review  could  not  print  birth  control  information.  Nevertheless,  some 
of  the  appeals,  particularly  from  women  who  lived  on  lonely,  remote 
farms,  were  so  heart-rending  that  I  simply  had  to  furnish  them  copies 
of  Family  Limitation,  though  urging  them  to  go  to  their  physicians. 

Every  once  in  a  while  I  had  a  telephone  message  to  come  down  to 
the  Post  Office  at  an  appointed  hour.  I  did  so,  wondering  and  un- 
certain. Was  the  interview  to  be  about  the  Review,  Family  Limitation, 
or  what  ? 

The  official  in  the  legal  department  whom  I  always  saw,  fatherly 
though  not  old,  used  to  say,  "Now,  Mrs.  Sanger,  you're  still  violating 
the  law  by  sending  your  pamphlet  through  the  mails.  If  you  keep  this 
up  they'll  put  you  in  jail  again." 

I  objected,  "The  Government  and  I  had  this  out  years  ago.  The 
Federal  case  was  dismissed." 

"It  never  can  be  settled  while  we  get  these  protests." 

To  prove  the  Post  Office  was  not  having  such  an  easy  time  of  it,  he 
pulled  open  a  drawer  and  inside  was  a  little  pile  of  pamphlets  and 
letters  from  religious  fanatics,  self -constituted  moralists  of  one  kind 
or  another,  women  as  well  as  men,  who  had  received  their  copies  and 
then  complained.  He  showed  me  envelopes  addressed  to  the  Governor 
of  New  York,  to  the  President  of  the  United  States.  I  studied  the 
handwriting  to  see  whether  I  could  recognize  it  as  identical  with  any 
that  had  come  to  me.  Perhaps  the  postmark  was  Wichita,  Kansas; 
there  could  not  be  many  from  a  town  of  that  size,  and  presently  I  re- 
membered the  request.  It  was  a  shattering  thing  to  see  that  drawer. 
I  had  been  earnestly  trying  to  aid  despairing  mothers,  and  had  been 
betrayed. 

"Here's  this  proof  against  you,  Mrs.  Sanger.  What  are  you  going 
to  do  about  it?" 

"Nothing.  As  long  as  these  women  ask  me  to  help  them,  I'm  going 
to  do  so." 

I  intended  to  continue  to  the  limit  of  my  resources  whether  or  not 
I  had  help  from  those  whom  I  had  originally  counted  upon.  In  order 
to  make  women's  clubs  feel  the  need  as  I  did  I  had  often  gone  miles 


A    STOUT    HEART   TO   A    STEEP    HILL  263 

at  my  own  expense  to  present  a  topic  that  had  taken  me  years  to 
prepare  and  then  had  had  to  express  it  to  the  accompaniment  of  the 
clatter  of  dishes  or  the  stirring  of  spoons  in  after-dinner  coffees.  The 
members  had  seemed  to  have  their  minds  on  hot  rolls  or  had  been 
fidgeting  to  get  on  to  the  bridge  tables.  Sometimes  a  few,  who  had 
come  to  dabble  in  sentimentality,  had  experienced  a  pleasant  emotional 
response,  "Oh,  the  poor  things,"  but  that  had  been  as  far  as  it  had 
gone. 

The  continued  apathy  of  such  organizations  disappointed  me  in- 
tensely ;  the  desire  to  build  up  a  structure  appeared  to  dominate  them 
all.  I  had  lost  faith  in  their  sincerity,  respect  for  their  courage,  and  at 
this  time  had  no  reason  to  anticipate  assistance  from  them.  To  upbraid, 
accuse,  or  censure  them  for  not  doing  what  I  had  hoped  was  useless, 
but  I  resolved  that  I  was  never  again  going  to  talk  to  them,  and,  when 
it  seemed  necessary  that  they  be  addressed,  I  sent  others  to  do  it. 

My  nervousness  ahead  of  lectures  continued  to  be  akin  to  illness. 
All  through  the  years  it  has  been  like  a  nightmare  even  to  think  of  a 
pending  speech.  I  promised  enthusiastically  to  go  here  or  there,  and 
then  tried  to  forget  it.  The  morning  it  was  to  be  delivered  I  awakened 
with  a  panicky  feeling  which  grew  into  a  sort  of  terror  if  I  allowed 
myself  to  dwell  on  it.  It  was  fatal  to  eat  before  a  meeting. 

Some  people  can  keep  an  audience  rocking  with  laughter  and  yet 
get  over  a  message.  But  I  cannot.  Seldom  do  my  hearers  have  any- 
thing merry  from  me.  Advisers  often  say,  "Lighten  up  your  subject." 
I  have  always  resented  this ;  I  am  the  protagonist  of  women  who  have 
nothing  to  laugh  at. 

Heywood  Broun  once  remarked  that  I  had  no  sense  of  humor.  I 
was  surprised  at  him,  but  I  could  understand  his  statement  in  a  way ; 
he  had  been  at  only  a  few  meetings  as  chairman  and  I  had  been  seri- 
ous to  the  point  of  deadliness,  purposely  bringing  forth  laborious  facts 
and  dramatic  statistics.  I  was  grasping  at  an  opportunity  to  reach  his 
audience  because,  whenever  he  was  moved  by  anything  deeply,  he 
wrote  a  story  in  his  column  which  by  reason  of  its  effective  irony 
and  smooth  prose  swayed  others  to  the  same  extent. 

I  have  had  much  fun,  although  it  may  have  penetrated  only  to  the 
intimate  circle  of  friends.  Once  after  giving  what  I  thought  was  a 
very  up-to-date,  spirited  talk  at  the  Waldorf-Astoria,  a  dear  old  lady, 


264  MARGARET    SANGER 

at  least  in  her  middle  eighties,  tottered  towards  me  with  the  aid  of  a 
cane  and  in  trembling  voice  quavered,  "I  have  traveled  across  the 
country  to  hear  you  speak,  Miss  Sangster.  My  mother  used  to  read 
your  poems  to  me  when  I  was  a  little  girl,  and  I  feel  this  is  a  great 
day  for  me  to  be  able  to  clasp  your  hand."  She  had  confused  me  with 
the  poetess,  Margaret  E.  Sangster,  who  in  the  mid-Nineteenth  Century 
had  been  a  regular  contributor  to  religious  magazines. 

L  Inevitably  I  have  been  constantly  torn  between  my  compulsion  to  do 
this  work  and  a  haunting  feeling  that  I  was  robbing  my  children  of 
time  to  which  they  were  entitled.  Back  in  19 13  I  had  had  some  vague 
notion  of  being  able  to  spend  all  my  summers  with  them  at  Province- 
town.  That  visionary  hope  had  been  immediately  dissipated  because 
too  many  painters  began  to  discover  it  and  the  place  became  littered 
with  easels  and  smocks.  Gene  O'Neill's  plays  were  being  produced  on 
the  wharf  opposite  Mary  Heaton  Vorse's  house,  and  these  brought 
many  more  people.  I  wanted  to  get  away  even  further,  and  so  did  Jack 
Reed,  who  had  also  sought  sanctuary  there.  A  real  estate  agent  took 
him  to  near-by  Truro  where  the  feet  of  New  Yorkers  had  not  yet  trod, 
and  I  was  invited  to  come  along.  We  saw  a  little  house  on  a  little  hill, 
one  of  the  most  ancient  in  the  village.  Below  it  the  Pamet  River  wound 
like  a  silver  ribbon  to  the  ocean.  An  old  sea  captain  had  squared  and 
smoothed  and  fitted  the  timbers,  brought  them  up  from  the  Carolinas 
in  a  sailing  vessel,  and  fastened  them  tightly  together  with  wooden 
pegs.  The  kitchen  was  bright  and  warm,  and  seemed  as  though  many 
cookies  and  pies  had  been  baked  in  it. 

Jack  bought  the  cottage,  but  he  was  never  able  to  live  there.  As  a 
staff  correspondent  of  the  Metropolitan  Magazine  he  was  dashing 
from  the  Colorado  Fuel  and  Iron  strike  to  the  European  War  and 
back  again  to  New  York.  In  191 7,  knowing  I,  too,  had  looked  at  it 
with  longing  eyes,  he  asked  whether  I  would  like  to  buy  it;Jie  was 
starting  for  Russia  the  next  day  and  had  to  have  ready  money.  By  a 
lucky  chance  I  had  just  received  a  check  for  a  thousand  dollars  in  pay- 
ment for  some  Chicago  lectures.  We  exchanged  check  and  deed.  He 
left  the  next  day  for  the  land  of  promise  whither  Bill  Haywood,  his 
friend,  had  already  gone  and  whence  neither  was  to  return. 

Big  Bill,  who  had  steadily  advocated  resistance  to  conscription,  had 
been  arrested  and  freed  on  bail  furnished  by  Jessie  Ashley.  She  had 


A    STOUT    HEART    TO    A    STEEP    HILL  265 

forfeited  it  gladly  to  have  him  safely  out  of  the  country.  I  had  had  a 
long  talk  with  him  before  he  had  made  up  his  mind  definitely  to  leave. 
The  conversation  brought  back  to  me  the  picture  of  the  times  he  and 
I  had  walked  up  and  down  the  Cape  Cod  sands  and  he  had  given  me 
such  good  counsel  about  not  jeopardizing  the  happiness  of  the  children. 

Those  who  had  opposed  Bill  for  his  "hands  in  the  pocket"  advice 
at  the  Paterson  strike  were  the  same  who  were  opposing  his  jumping 
his  bail.  Since  the  day  we  had  together  visited  the  C.G.T.  meetings  in 
Paris,  Bill  had  come  to  see  the  virtues  of  expediency ;  that,  rather  than 
languish  in  jail  where  he  could  accomplish  no  useful  purpose,  a  revolu- 
tionary should,  if  he  could,  exile  himself.  "He  who  fights  and  runs 
away,  will  live  to  fight  another  day."  This,  according  to  the  American 
idea,  was  cowardice — you  should  stay  and  be  a  martyr.  But  to  Bill 
it  was  now  merely  shortsighted.  He  had  concluded  that  the  average 
worker  when  he  went  in  for  rioting  and  hand-to-hand  combat  was 
beaten  before  he  had  begun.  He  realized  the  workers  had  been  split  by 
the  War ;  they  had  not  united  and  stood  up  against  conscription  with 
any  backbone.  They  could  not  as  yet  be  depended  upon  as  a  force,  but 
some  day  he  hoped  to  return  and  reorganize  them. 

Truro  provided  the  children  with  three  carefree  months  every 
summer  in  what  still  seems  to  me  one  of  the  most  beautiful  spots  in  the 
world.  For  several  years  I  hung  on  to  this  dream  of  being  with  them 
constantly,  but  it  was  only  a  dream.  I  used  to  go  down  to  open  the 
house  and  perhaps  snatch  a  week  or  so  there  before  being  obliged  to 
hurry  back,  but  father  and  my  sister  Nan  were  good  foster-parents. 
This  house  was  eventually  to  burn  as  had  the  one  in  Hastings ;  fate 
seemed  to  decree  I  should  not  be  tempted  to  slip  back  into  peaceful 
domesticity. 

Nor  did  I  have  all  those  hoped  for  years  of  watching  the  boys 
grow  from  one  stage  to  another.  I  had  had  to  analyze  the  situation 
— either  to  keep  them  at  home  under  the  supervision  of  servants  who 
might  perhaps  be  incompetent,  and  to  have  no  more  than  the  pleas- 
ure of  seeing  them  safely  to  bed,  or  else  to  sacrifice  my  maternal 
feelings  and  put  them  in  country  schools  directed  by  capable  masters 
where  they  could  lead  a  healthy,  regular  life.  Having  come  to  this  latter 
decision  I  sent  them  off  fairly  young,  and  thereafter  could  only  visit 
them  over  week-ends  or  on  the  rare  occasions  when  I  was  speaking  in 


266  MARGARET    SANGER 

the  vicinity.  If  the  desire  to  see  them  grew  beyond  control,  I  took  the 
first  train  and  received  the  shock  of  finding  them  thoroughly  contented 
in  the  companionship  they  had  made  for  themselves ;  after  the  initial 
excitement  of  greeting  had  passed  away  they  ran  off  again  to  their 
games. 

At  times  the  homesickness  for  them  seemed  too  much  to  bear ;  espe- 
cially was  this  true  in  the  Fourteenth  Street  studio.  When  I  came  in 
late  at  night  the  fire  was  dead  in  the  grate,  the  book  open  on  the  table, 
the  glove  dropped  on  the  floor,  the  pillow  rumpled  on  the  sofa — all  the 
same — just  as  I  had  left  them  a  day,  a  week,  or  a  month  before.  That 
first  chill  of  loneliness  was  always  appalling.  I  wanted,  as  a  child  does, 
to  be  like  other  people ;  I  wanted  to  be  able  to  sink  gratefully  into  the 
warmth  and  glow  of  a  loving  family  welcome. 

The  winter  of  191 7-18  was  particularly  hard;  the  snow  drifted 
high  and  lasted  long,  and  it  took  forced  cheer  to  keep  your  spirits  up. 
Dr.  Mary  Halton  assured  me  that  with  ceaseless  financial  worry,  in- 
adequate rest,  incessant  traveling,  improper  nourishment,  I  could  not 
survive  long.  When,  therefore,  a  publisher  asked  me  for  a  book  on 
labor  problems,  I  snatched  ten-year-old  Grant  out  of  school  and  set 
off  for  California,  taking  a  small  place  at  Coronado  where  I  sat  myself 
down  for  three  months  to  write  and  to  get  acquainted  with  my  son. 

I  loved  the  sunshine.  It  was  a  pleasure  to  be  out-of-doors,  to  have 
peace  and  quiet  and  the  leisure  to  arrange  my  thoughts  and  put  them 
on  paper.  I  had  no  inclination  towards  a  labor  book,  but  thoroughly 
enjoyed  letting  loose  my  pent-up  feelings  on  Woman  and  the  New 
Race.  It  was  good  to  classify  reasons  and  set  them  in  order.  My  opin- 
ions did  emerge,  and  it  was  a  great  release. 

I  was  vividly  reminded  of  prison  one  day  when  Grant  came  home 
from  the  school  he  was  attending,  both  his  eyes  pretty  dirty-looking. 
I  asked  him  why  he  had  been  fighting. 

"I  don't  want  to  tell  you." 

'Td  like  to  know." 

"Well,  this  boy  told  all  the  fellows  my  mother'd  been  in  jail." 

"What  did  you  do?" 

"I  hit  him,  and  he  hit  me  back.  He  said,  'Your  mother's  a  jailbird,' 
and  I  said,  'She's  not.'  Then  another  fellow  said,  'My  mother  says 
your  mother  went  to  jail  too.'  " 


A   STOUT    HEART   TO   A   STEEP    HILL  267 

Grant  had  replied,  "That  wasn't  my  mother,  that  was  another 

Margaret  Sanger." 

"How  could  you  say  that,  Grant?  You  know  it  wasn't  true." 
"Mother,"  he  replied  profoundly,  "you  could  never  make  those 

fellows  understand." 


Chapter  Twenty-one 


THUS  TO  REVISIT 


THE  event  of  my  visit  to  London  in  1920  was  the  beginning  of 
my  friendship  with  H.  G.  Wells.  There  was  no  aloofness  or 
coldness  in  approaching  him,  no  barriers  to  break  down  as  with  most 
Englishmen ;  his  twinkling  eyes  were  like  those  of  a  mischievous  boy. 
I  was  pleased  to  find  he  had  no  beard  and  no  white  hair,  because-^ 
seemed  to  me  I  had  heard  of  him  since  I  had  begun  to  think  at  all. 

Wells  had  ranged  every  field  of  knowledge,  had  dared  to  invade 
the  sacrosanct  precincts  of  the  historian,  the  economist,  and  the  scien- 
tist and,  though  a  layman  in  these  fields,  had  used  his  extraordinary 
gifts  to  interpret  the  past  and  present  and  even  prophesy  the  future; 
in  novel  after  novel  he  had  shocked  England  by  championing  women's 
right  to  a  freer  life. 

We  in  the  United  States  were  just  beginning  to  be  affected  by  so- 
ciological concepts;  only  Henry  George  and  Edward  Bellamy  had 
previously  opened  up  this  new  world  of  the  imagination.  Now  here 
was  Wells  giving  a  fresh  picture  of  what  could  be  if  man  had  an  ideal 
system  of  society  that  was  workable.  At  Columbia  Colony  he  had  been 
quoted  repeatedly.  On  my  lecture  tour  in  19 16  his  name  had  been 
on  everybody's  lips,  and  he  had  signed  the  letter  to  President  Wilson 
protesting  against  the  Federal  indictment.  I  believed  he  had  influenced 
the  American  intelligentsia  more  than  any  other  one  man. 

For  good  reason  countless  faithful  friends  had  attached  themselves 
to  Wells,  and  he  included  in  his  varied,  intricate,  and  unpredictable 
personality  a  capacity  for  loyally  loving  both  individuals  and  human- 
ity. 

268 


THUS    TO    REVISIT  269 

People  who  had  never  met  Wells  always  thought  they  knew  him 
best,  especially  Londoners.  I  was  stopping  with  three  maiden  sisters 
in  Hampstead  Gardens,  and  a  great  furor  arose  as  soon  as  it  was 
known  in  the  household/ that  Mrs.  Wells  had  sent  me  an  invitation  for 
what  was  to  be  my  first  week-end  at  Easton  Glebe  in  Essex.  What  was 
I  to  wear  ?  Was  I  going  to  take  the  blue  net  or  the  flowered  chiffon  ? 
They  were  greatly  disappointed  when  I  carried  only  a  small  bag  in 
which  there  was  no  room  for  fluffy  evening  gowns. 

Wells  himself  was  waiting  on  the  platform  at  Dunmow  Station, 
and  we  drove  in  his  little  car,  called  the  Pumpkin,  to  Easton  Glebe, 
a  part  of  the  Warwick  Estate  on  which  he  held  a  life  lease.  The  former 
rectory  was  built  of  old  stone,  ivy-covered ;  lovely  lawns  were  spread 
around  it.  Early  morning  tea  was  served  in  your  room,  shoes  put  out 
at  night  were  properly  polished,  hot  water  was  plentiful  for  your  bath, 
and  extra  pitchers  were  brought  with  towels  wrapped  around  carefully 
to  keep  in  the  steam. 

During  the  course  of  the  next  two  days  I  realized  more  than  ever 
before  how  sensitive  H.G.  was  to  the  slightest  intonation.  To  be  with 
him  meant  you  had  to  be  on  the  alert  every  second  lest  you  miss  some- 
thing of  him.  He  could  be  amusing,  witty,  sarcastic,  brilliant,  flirta- 
tious, and  yet  profound  at  once,  all  in  his  thin,  small  voice,  speaking 
high  up  into  the  roof  of  his  mouth,  as  do  many  English,  instead  of 
back  in  the  throat  as  we  do. 

I  returned  Monday  evening  about  midnight  to  my  room  at  Hamp- 
stead, having  spent  the  day  in  town  seeing  people.  But  no  sooner  had 
I  closed  the  door  than  steps  pattered  in  the  hallway  and  a  soft  hand 
tapped.  In  came  the  three  ladies,  hair  in  braids,  warmly  and  most 
modestly  swathed  in  voluminous,  white  cotton  nighties,  long-sleeved 
and  tight  around  the  neck.  They  had  stayed  wide-awake  to  hear  all 
about  my  week-end.  I  told^them  as  much  as  I  could  remember  of  the 
place  and  the  stimulating  fellow  guests,  one  in  particular  with  whom 
I  had  been  having  an  interesting  discussion.  When  I  had  finished  the 
eldest  leaned  forward  and  hesitatingly  but  loudly  whispered,  "Did  he 
try  to  kiss  you  ?•" 

"What?  Who?"  I  asked,  having  in  mind  the  man  I  had  just  been 
praising. 

"Why — why — don't  you  know  ?" 


27O  MARGARET   SANGER 

"Know  what?" 

She  looked  a  little  abashed  at  this,  and  another  voice  explained 
apologetically,  "Sister  means  that  Wells  has  a  magnetic  influence  over 
women !" 

"Was  he  fascinating?"  the  youngest  eagerly  took  up  the  catechism. 

For  two  solid  hours  I  was  bombarded  with  questions;  H.G.  was 
the  Don  Juan  of  spinsterhood  in  England.  That  there  was  a  Mrs. 
Wells  for  whom  Mr.  Wells  cared  deeply  did  not  matter  in  the  least  to 
them. 

I  wish  I  could  do  justice  to  Jane,  as  Catherine  Wells  was  affection- 
ately called.  This  devoted  mother,  perfect  companion,  was  the  com- 
plete helpmate,  managing  H.G.'s  finances,  reading  the  proofs  of  his 
books,  seeing  that  all  editions  were  up-to-date,  letting  no  publisher 
be  delinquent  in  his  royalties.  She  did  not  pretend  to  be  a  Feminist ; 
she  was  there  to  protect  him,  performing  the  duties  of  an  English  wife 
towards  her  husband  and  appearing  with  him  so  that  they  might  make 
a  united  front  to  the  world.  The  relationship  between  them  was  on  a 
fine  plane. 

Although  H.G.  had  told  me  once  "the  sun  would  set  if. anything 
ever  happened  to  Jane"  I  felt  that  he  had  never  put  her  adequately 
into  his  books  as  the  great  woman  she  really  was ;  he  was  too  close  to 
her.  After  she  died,  his  touching  introduction  to  The  Book  of  Cather- 
ine Wells  proved  that  he  realized  what  she  had  been  in  his  life. 

Jane  was  always  mothering  people  and  looking  after  their  comfort. 
At  a  later  time  when  I  happened  to  be  at  Easton  Glebe,  she  was  dis- 
tressed and  anxious  that  I  was  taking  it  for  granted  I  had  to  have  an 
ice-pack  on  my  neck  every  night  because  my  tubercular  glands  were 
bothering  me.  She  insisted  and  insisted  something  must  be  done,  until 
finally  my  tonsils  were  removed,  the  true  source  of  my  trouble.  I  owed 
this  tremendous  relief  to  Jane's  interest,  which  would  not  let  me  go 
on  being  sick. 

The  gay  wit  and  gift  for  mimicry  were  not  confined  to  H.G.  alone. 
On  one  of  my  visits  I  was  shown  a  new  bathroom,  and  we  viewed 
solemnly  the  tiny,  almost  microscopic,  tub.  Jane  was  slight  and  small, 
and  I  was  quite  sure  it  was  meant  for  her  and  not  for  H.G.'s  rotund 
frame.  She  maintained,  however,  it  had  been  installed  for  his  conven- 
ience, and  made  funny  suction  noises  as  though  a  large  and  deep  well 


THUS   TO   REVISIT  27 1 

were  being  pumped  dry.  I  was  hilarious,  but  he,  pretending  to  be 
irritated,  yet  laughing  too,  growled  at  her,  "What  are  you  trying  to 
do?  Make  my  bathing  an  international  joke?" 

The  little  things  H.G.  said,  many  of  them  jibes  at  himself,  were 
always  amusing.  Even  more  so  were  the  drawings  with  which  he  dec- 
orated his  letters.  If  he  did  not  want  to  go  somewhere  he  might  perhaps 
illustrate  his  reluctance  by  picturing  himself  being  dragged  off,  or,  if 
he  desired  the  absence  rather  than  the  presence  of  a  person  at  a  meet- 
ing, he  would  portray  him  being  pushed  out  unceremoniously.  These 
ingenious  caricatures  allowed  many  subtleties  which  even  he  would 
not  like  to  put  into  words  over  his  own  signature. 

Jane  was  unsurpassed  when  it  came  to  charades,  and  never  minded 
having  the  house  turned  upside  down  in  the  search  for  properties.  But 
the  Wells  family  did  not  have  to  depend  upon  orthodox  pastimes ;  they 
often  made  up  their  own.  H.G.  had  invented  a  ball  game  which  was 
played  Sunday  mornings  in  a  barn  made  over  into  a  sort  of  indoor 
court.  Unlike  tennis,  many  could  take  part  at  once  and  the  sport  was 
so  exhausting  that  when  they  finished  they  were  usually  dripping  with 
perspiration.  I  did  not  play;  other  novices  seemed  to  be  doing  badly 
enough  without  me.  If  you  did  not  feel  up  to  anything  so  strenuous, 
you  could  take  a  short  walk  through  the  charming  garden  which  Jane 
had  so  lovingly  arranged,  or  a  long  one  through  the  woods,  by  the 
lakes,  or  bordering  the  streams  of  the  Warwick  Estate,  of  which  H.G. 
had  free  use.  Every  season  had  its  different  aspects  of  beauty. 

Sunday  afternoons  and  evenings  were  especially  merry.  The  at- 
mosphere at  Easton  Glebe  was  like  nothing  else,  something  that  does 
not  exist  here,  where  the  elders  have  their  bridge  and  their  conversa- 
tion and  the  young  go  dancing  or  to  the  movies.  There,  all  ages  mixed 
together  in  fun,  in  laughter.  The  two  sons,  Frank  and  "Gyp,"  who 
were  then  at  Cambridge,  might  bring  from  ten  to  fifteen  friends  home 
for  tea,  a  great  function  over  which  Jane  so  graciously  presided.  The 
maids  went  out  after  setting  the  table  for  supper  and  preparing  cold 
meats  on  the  buffet,  and  the  party  then  took  care  of  itself,  everybody 
serving  everybody  else.  The  boys  were  full  of  devilment  and  it  was 
most  uproarious. 

I  often  wondered  how  the  unexpected  arrivals  were  provided  for, 
but  Jane  was  a  remarkable  hostess ;  I  have  known  her  to  have  a  house- 


272  MARGARET    SANGER 

ful  at  Easton  Glebe  for  lunch  and  give  a  brilliant  dinner  in  London 
that  same  evening.  Every  guest  was  planned  for,  no  one  was  ever  hud- 
dled with  another,  appropriate  games  were  produced  or  friends  in- 
vited who  might  be  interesting  or  helpful.  When  they  were  ready  to 
leave,  all  were  put  on  the  most  convenient  trains  and  returned  to  town 
with  as  little  trouble  to  themselves  as  possible. 

From  1920  on  I  never  went  to  England  without  spending  part  of 
the  time  with  H.G.,  and  many  of  the  most  attractive  people  I  met  were 
at  Easton  Glebe.  I  always  came  away  enriched  by  these  contacts  and 
the  talks  we  had  together.  Conversation  was  a  combination  of  current 
topics,  science,  philosophy,  history.  The  English  might  not  have  had 
the  same  light  flippancy  or  such  a  scattered  fund  of  information  as  the 
average  American,  who  usually  qualified  his  statements  with,  "I  read 
that — "  or  "I  know  someone  who — ,"  but  they  did  speak  out  of  their 
own  experience.  Furthermore,  they  could  toss  the  ball  of  repartee 
back  and  forth  objectively  and  not  become  irritated  or  let  creep  into 
their  voices  that  personal  note  which  implied  they  had  now  settled  the 
whole  thing. 

Each  one  at  Easton  Glebe  had  his  turn  in  the  spotlight ;  it  was  never 
a  monologue,  which  a  man  in  H.G.'s  position  might  have  made  it.  No 
subject  could  be  mentioned  that  he  did  not  have  its  complete  history 
and  a  definite  opinion  on  it  as  well,  including  Neo-Malthusianism  in 
all  its  implications. 

These  week-ends  were  inspiration  and  recreation.  The  serious  duty 
which  called  me  to  England  was  lecturing.  The  Neo-Malthusian 
League  had  few  speakers  at  that  time  to  address  women  audiences, 
and  wished  me  to  test  out  the  response  to  their  propaganda. 

English  public  sentiment  on  birth  control  had  vastly  changed  since 
I  had  been  there  in  191 5,  largely  because  Marie  Stopes'  book  had  had 
such  wide  circulation  during  the  after- War  period ;  her  voice  had  made 
articulate  the  feelings  of  the  millions  of  unemployed.  That  people 
now  knew  what  birth  control  meant  was  due  in  part  also  to  Harold 
Cox,  one  of  the  finest  orators  of  his  generation,  who  had  been  the 
first  to  point  out  that  its  condemnation  by  medical  men  and  Anglican 
clergy  should  carry  little  weight,  because  the  birth  rates  among  them 
were  lower  than  those  of  almost  any  other  classes.  Notable  exceptions 
who  had  come  out  favorably  were  Sir  James  Barr,  ex-President  of  the 


THUS   TO   REVISIT  273 

British  Medical  Association,  Dr.  C.  Killick  Millard,  Health  Officer  of 
Leicester  in  the  North,  Dean  Inge  of  St.  Paul's,  and  the  Bishop  of 
Birmingham,  who  was  Chairman  of  the  English  National  Birth  Rate 
Commission ;  England  was  accustomed  to  clarifying  new  and  con- 
troversial subjects,  by  such  bodies,  summoning  experts  to  testify. 

Dr.  Alice  Vickery  arranged  for  me  to  give  a  series  of  talks,  many 
before  lower  middle-class  workers'  wives  who  belonged  to  the 
Women's  Co-operative  Guild.  In  different  districts  of  London  they 
came  together,  paying  their  little  bit,  perhaps  sixpence  a  month,  to 
listen  to  speakers,  afterwards  serving  tea  and  conversing  in  a  friendly 
way  among  themselves.  Though  their  economic  uncertainty  made 
them  resigned  to  having  ten  or  twelve  children,  the  fact  that  the  Guild 
had  just  brought  out  a  book  describing  some  of  the  tragic  cases  of  its 
own  members  and  the  deaths  from  over-childbearing  helped  to  pave 
the  way. 

Of  all  the  slums  I  visited  in  trams,  on  buses,  via  the  Underground, 
the  one  of  worst  repute  at  the  time  was  the  dockyards  section  of 
Rotherhithe.  I  held  a  small  demonstration  clinic  there — in  a  sense  the 
first  of  its  kind  in  England.  The  eager  women  who  came,  amazingly 
ignorant  of  any  possible  beauty  in  marriage,  were  envious  of  a  few 
in  the  community  who,  though  the  fathers  were  receiving  no  higher 
wages  than  their  own  husbands,  had  had  only  two  or  three  children 
and  consequently  could  afford  to  send  them  to  the  trade  school.  They 
themselves  were,  if  not  sliding  backward,  at  least  no  more  than  hold- 
ing their  own,  but  those  few  families  were  definitely  on  the  way  up  in 
the  social  scale.  And  it  had  all  come  to  pass  because  Dr.  Vickery  and 
Anne  Martin,  a  friend  of  hers  who  had  labored  there  for  two  decades 
as  a  social  worker,  had  given  some  contraceptive  information  about 
ten  years  earlier. 

Although  Dr.  Vickery  had  on  numerous  occasions  raised  the  ques- 
tion of  birth  control  before  gatherings  bent  on  other  matters,  it  fell  to 
my  lot  to  discuss  it  first  as  a  public  health  issue.  I  was  told  I  might 
have  three  minutes  to  address  a  national  health  Conference  on  Mater- 
nal and  Infant  Welfare  to  be  held  at  Brighton.  Considering  the  four 
hours  required  in  transit  this  might  seem  a  short  time,  but  I  was  happy 
to  have  even  as  much  as  that.  So  I  went. 

With  the  prospect  of  reaching  university  students  I  traveled  to 


274  MARGARET    SANGER 

Cambridge.  In  the  midst  of  the  weathered  spires,  the  ivied  halls,  and 
the  storied  dignity  of  Trinity  and  Kings,  Noel  Porter  and  his  wife, 
Bevan,  had  converted  an  old  public  house,  The  Half  Moon,  into  a 
home,  yet  had  managed  to  keep  its  original  atmosphere  of  convivial 
hospitality.  The  tap-room  had  once  opened  directly  on  Little  St.  Mary's 
Lane ;  now  the  bar  had  been  removed,  but  the  ancient  sign  still  swung 
back  and  forth  and  the  smoky  ceilings  and  mildewed  paneling  were 
the  same  as  when  former  generations  had  congregated  there  over  mugs 
of  ale. 

Opposite  was  a  tiny,  old-fashioned  graveyard,  no  longer  used,  and 
I  went  out  there  and  let  the  sun  beat  against  my  aching  back.  It  was 
amusing  to  have  to  resort  to  a  cemetery  for  privacy,  but  the  house  was 
constantly  filled  with  hatless  students  coming  and  going  through  the 
enormous  downstairs  room  which  served  as  rendezvous  for  all.  In  the 
afternoons  these  youths  on  the  threshold  of  manhood  came  to  talk 
over  the  questions  which  were  perplexing  them ;  in  the  evenings  they 
had  little  meetings,  at  one  of  which  I  spoke. 

Guy  Aldred,  who  was  in  Scotland,  had  planned  my  schedule  there, 
and  I  had  three  weeks  of  a  Scottish  summer — bluebells  so  thick  in 
spots  that  the  ground  was  azure,  long  twilights  when  the  lavender 
heather  faded  the  hills  into  purple. 

When  I  had  been  in  Glasgow  before,  I  had  encountered  only  officials, 
but  on  this  occasion  I  met  the  people  in  their  homes  and  found  them 
quite  opposite  to  the  stingy,  tight-fisted,  middle-class  stereotype.  They 
were  hospitable,  generous,  mentally  alert,  just  as  witty  as  the  Irish  and 
in  much  the  same  way,  which  rather  surprised  me. 

Fourth  of  July,  Sunday,  we  had  a  noon  meeting  on  the  Glasgow 
Green.  Nearly  two  thousand  shipyard  workers  in  caps  and  baggy 
corduroys  stood  close  together  listening  in  utter,  dead  stillness  without 
cough  or  whisper.  That  evening  I  spoke  in  a  hall  under  Socialist  aus- 
pices, Guy  Aldred  acting  as  chairman.  One  old-timer  said  he  had  been 
a  party  member  for  eleven  years,  attending  Sunday  night  lectures 
regularly,  but  never  before  had  he  been  able  to  induce  his  wife  to  come ; 
tonight  he  could  not  keep  her  home.  "Look !"  he  cried  in  amazement. 
"The  women  have  crowded  the  men  out  of  this  hall.  I  never  saw  so 
many  wives  of  comrades  before." 


THUS    TO    REVISIT  275 

The  men  were  there,  partly  through  curiosity  to  hear  the  American 
and  partly  through  interest  in  the  subject,  ready  to  fight  the  ancient 
battle  of  Marx  against  Malthus.  Efforts  of  the  English  Neo-Malthu- 
sians  to  introduce  birth  control  to  the  masses  had  been  hampered  not 
only  by  the  opposition  of  the  upper  classes,  but  more  especially  by  the 
persistent  hostility  of  the  orthodox  Socialists. 

Marx,  dealing  with  problems  after  they  had  arisen,  had  taught  that 
any  reform  likely  to  dull  the  edge  of  poverty  was  bad  for  Socialism 
because  it  made  labor  less  dissatisfied.  It  followed  that  if  a  man  had 
to  fight  for  the  hungers  and  necessities  of  ten  or  twelve  children,  he 
made  a  better  revolutionary.  "Let  'em  have  as  many  as  they  can,"  was 
the  cry.  On  the  other  hand,  if  birth  control  were  practiced  by  the  work- 
ing classes,  the  wage  earner  who  could  support  two  children  and  knew 
how  not  to  have  more  was  going  to  be  content  and  would  not  struggle 
against  conditions  of  economic  insecurity.  Hence  he  was  likely  to  for- 
get "the  Revolution." 

Knowing  that  the  Scotch  took  mental  notes  of  items  on  which  to 
debate,  I  had  tried  to  prepare  myself  well,  and  I  produced  the  unan- 
swerable argument  to  this  theory.  "Why  do  you  demand  higher  wages 
then,"  I  asked,  "when  what  you  really  want  is  privation?  If  misery 
is  your  weapon  you  should  not  insist  on  an  eight-hour  day  but  on  a 
twelve-  or  f  ourteen-hour  one.  You  should  pile  up  your  grievances,  and 
pile  them  up  higher.  However,  in  spite  of  your  best  efforts  I  believe 
your  hunger-revolution  will,  as  it  has  always  done,  capitulate  to  what- 
ever force  or  government  will  fill  your  stomachs." 

Socialists,  like  anarchists  and  syndicalists,  were  used  to  contesting 
Malthusianism  on  economic  grounds,  but,  unlike  the  others,  they  had 
as  a  part  of  their  platform  the  freedom  of  woman.  I  pointed  out  that 
she  could  have  the  sort  of  freedom  they  desired  for  her  right  here  and 
now  through  birth  control. 

When  I  ended,  Guy  Aldred  asked,  "Now  are  there  any  questions  ?" 
After  a  few  somewhat  irrelevant  ones,  silence  fell ;  confronted  by  their 
own  philosophy  they  could  see  it.  One  man  finally  rose,  "We'd  like  to 
hear  what  the  Chairman  thinks  of  all  this.  Does  he  believe  birth  con- 
trol will  do  what  the  lady  speaker  claims  for  it  ?"  Apparently  they  were 
waiting  for  their  cue.  But  Guy  Aldred  was  not  to  be  drawn.  After 


276  MARGARET   SANGER 

giving  him  an  opportunity  to  express  himself  they  plunged  in  and 
said  their  say.  Even  some  women  who  had  never  been  on  their  feet 
before  got  up  to  tell  dramatic,  vivid,  personal  stories. 

The  next  day  I  was  on  my  way  to  a  town  not  far  from  Dunfermline, 
Andrew  Carnegie's  birthplace.  I  arrived  about  four  o'clock  in  a  driv- 
ing storm,  lacking  both  umbrella  and  raincoat.  No  taxi  had  ever 
graced  the  railroad  station,  and  we  trudged  through  the  rain  to  the 
cottage  of  one  of  the  "most  advanced  friends  of  labor."  I  was  soaking 
wet  up  to  the  knees.  A  hurry-call  was  sent  to  neighbors  for  dry  cloth- 
ing, but  among  that  population  of  five  thousand  not  a  single  woman 
had  an  extra  skirt  to  lend,  and  only  after  long  search  was  a  new  pair 
of  Sunday  shoes  forthcoming. 

Because  there  was  not  an  inn  within  miles,  I  slept  that  night  with 
my  hostess  in  the  one  bed  the  house  contained ;  the  husband  stretched 
himself  out  on  two  chairs  in  the  kitchen.  Since  Sylvia  Pankhurst  had 
been  similarly  accommodated  just  a  few  months  before,  I  knew  I  was 
having  the  best  the  village  afforded. 

The  inhabitants  had  been  dispatched  from  Lancashire  factory 
towns  during  the  War  for  special  munitions  work,  and  here  they  had 
stayed  and  made  their  homes.  Practically  all  had  been  apprenticed  to 
the  mills  at  the  age  of  eight  or  nine.  Girls,  because  they  were  destined 
for  marriage  and  therefore  needed  no  education,  had  worked  ten  or 
twelve  hours  a  day  throughout  their  adolescence,  and  even  after  their 
weddings  up  to  the  time  pregnancy  was  well  advanced.  As  a  result,  the 
young  mothers,  who  had  never,  from  childhood  to  maturity,  had  a 
chance  to  become  rested  and  get  the  fatigue  out  of  their  systems,  had 
apparently  transmitted  their  weariness  to  their  children;  the  first- 
born were  sleepy,  inert,  and  always  tired.  A  doctor  told  me  it  was 
common  for  boys  and  girls  of  five,  six,  and  seven  to  fall  asleep  at 
their  school  desks  and  have  to  be  awakened. 

When  I  had  arrived  in  England  I  had  gone  to  see  Havelock  in 
the  quaint  old  Cornwall  village  where  he  was  living  alone  since  Edith's 
death.  Winding  pathways,  well-trodden  and  embraced  on  either  side 
by  rambling  shrubbery  and  verbena,  led  from  his  house  to  the  sea 
hundreds  of  feet  below.  The  waves  dashed  continuously  against  the 
crags  and  rocks,  and  thousands  of  gulls  shrieked  or  sailed  majestically 
almost  in  front  of  my  eyes. 


THUS   TO   REVISIT  277 

We  had  then  talked  about  going  to  Ireland  where  I  could  make  a 
foray  into  my  own  genealogy.  Mother's  ancestors  at  some  stage  had 
been  the  same  as  Edward  Fitzgerald's  and  I  thought  I  might  find  some 
of  the  places  from  which  they  had  sprung.  I  had  no  exact  information 
— just  tradition  from  childhood  days.  Now,  after  my  strenuous  lec- 
turing, I  needed  a  brief  holiday,  and  Havelock  also  wanted  a  vacation ; 
so  we  joined  forces. 

My  primary  purpose  was  frustrated  because  after  half  a  century 
nobody  in  any  of  the  little  villages  seemed  to  know  anything  definite. 
At  Glengariff  they  said,  "Sure,  and  I  thought  it  was  Killarney  your 
grandfather  was  born  in."  But  at  Killarney  I  was  told,  "Oh,  it  was 
Cork  your  family  came  from.  My  grandmother  knew  them  very  well." 

More  difficult  to  surmount  than  the  vague  discursiveness  of  these 
good  people  was  the  Sinn  Fein  Rebellion,  in  the  thick  of  which  we 
found  ourselves.  The  night  before  we  reached  Cork  there  had  been  a 
raid  and  the  leaders  were  in  hiding.  Everywhere  we  went  we  could 
sense  a  subtle,  surreptitious  undercurrent — in  the  hotels,  in  the  res- 
taurants, among  small,  whispering  groups  which  dispersed  when  any 
stranger  approached. 

Ireland  had  great  natural  beauty,  and  I  was  sorry  to  see  the  begin- 
nings of  ugly,  modern  industrialism  cropping  up,  especially  in  Cork 
with  the  Ford  factory.  The  mustard-colored  kilts  of  the  men  aston- 
ished me ;  I  had  never  known  the  Irish  wore  them,  but  they  were  try- 
ing to  bring  back  their  ancestral  dress  along  with  the  Gaelic  language. 
Always  their  kindness  and  interest  and  the  sadness  in  their  voices 
moved  me  deeply.  They  were  never  too  sad,  however,  to  give  a  quick 
turn  to  a  phrase.  One  morning  the  tram  in  which  we  were  riding  sud- 
denly stopped.  Nobody  knew  why ;  everybody  was  complaining.  Then 
from  a  side  street  came  a  handful  of  Black  and  Tans  with  bayonets 
fixed.  I  asked  the  Irishman  sitting  beside  me,  "What  does  that  mean?" 

"You  should  know,"  he  replied.  "Those  are  Wilson's  Fourteen 
Pints." 

Havelock  was  a  delightful  companion,  not  loquacious,  but  keenly 
interested  in  everything,  and  forever  jotting  down  his  copious  notes. 
We  hired  a  two-wheeled  jaunting  car  in  which  we  sat  back  to  back, 
and  in  this  way  bumped  from  Glengariff  to  Killarney.  Occasionally  the 
sun  broke  through  for  half  an  hour,  but  it  was  wet  that  year — potatoes 


278  MARGARET   SANGER 

and  hay  were  rotting  on  the  ground  because  the  sun  did  not  shine  long 
enough  to  dry  them. 

We  arrived  at  the  inn,  drenched  and  sopping.  Havelock,  with  his 
typically  English  dread  of  a  cold,  went  to  bed,  but  I  stayed  up  talking 
with  a  young  woman  and  three  equally  young  traveling  priests — Sinn 
Feiners  all.  We  chatted  desultorily  until  I  happened  to  mention  I  had 
a  letter  to  the  widow  of  the  hero,  Skeffington,  who  had  been  killed  in 
the  disturbances. 

The  company,  assuming  me  to  be  one  with  their  cause,  immediately 
became  most  friendly.  The  girl  began  discussing  higher  education  for 
her  sex.  I  asked  her  how  she  could  keep  on  when  she  married  and  had 
the  inevitable  succession  of  offspring.  The  priests,  somewhat  to  my 
surprise,  fell  in  with  my  ideas  by  deploring  too  large  families ;  some 
of  the  older  sons  and  daughters  had  to  emigrate,  and  even  those  who 
were  left  could  not  care  adequately  for  their  parents.  It  would  be  better 
for  the  Catholic  Church  as  well  as  for  the  world  if  they  could  help 
people  to  have  only  a  few  children  and  bring  them  up  decently.  I  felt 
hopeful  because  they  were  speaking  of  birth  control  as  solving  some 
of  their  own  problems ;  they  were  saying  exactly  what  I  most  wanted 
them  to  say. 

Several  happy  days  we  spent  at  Killarney,  exploring  on  foot, 
on  horseback,  and  in  boats.  The  men  who  drove  the  cart  or  rowed  us 
through  the  lakes  always  knew  the  old  myths  of  the  mountains  and 
poured  into  our  ears  tales  of  leprechauns  and  other  "little  people."  You 
heard  the  word  "divil"  more  than  any  other.  Here  the  divil,  so  they 
told  us,  had  left  his  step,  there  he  had  run  away.  The  shape  of  every 
mountain,  the  twist  of  every  stream  had  their  stories. 

Wherever  we  went  women,  lean  and  elderly,  wearing  tiny  shoulder 
shawls  and  calico  print  dresses,  fairly  started  out  of  the  hillsides,  bare- 
headed, barefooted,  complexions  like  roses,  and  eyes  as  blue  as  the  sky. 
Yet  their  faces  were  hungry  and  worn.  Getting  on  in  years  as  they 
were,  they  could  and  did  run  faster  than  our  ponies.  When  we  spurred 
forward  they  came  right  along,  flattering,  cajoling,  uttering  prayers 
and  "God  bless  you's,"  calling  on  all  the  saints  to  preserve  you  if  you 
would  buy  a  drop  of  "Mountain  Dew,"  which  was  so  good  for  your 
health.  If  you  bought  this  Irish  whiskey  from  one,  another  took  her 
place,  and,  quite  undiscouraged,  began  again  the  flow  of  sales  talk. 


THUS   TO   REVISIT  279 

One  of  our  last  days,  when  the  wraiths  of  the  lake  dimmed  the 
emerald  hills,  we  walked  to  red-bricked  Killarney  House,  to  which,  as 
Havelock  said,  nature  was  adding  her  own  wild  beauty  to  the  beauty 
that  man  had  made. 

All  of'  Ireland  had  seemed  draped  in  mist  and  sadness  and,  lovely 
as  it  had  been,  I  never  wanted  to  go  back. 


V. 


Chapter  Twenty-two 


DO  YE  HEAR  THE  CHILDREN  WEEPING? 


AFTER  the  Irish  interlude  I  was  ready  to  go  on  to  Germany  to 
jLjL  carry  out  the  most  important  objective  of  my  journey  abroad. 
It  had  become  obvious  that  progress  depended  on  finding  a  means  of 
contraception,  cheap,  harmless,  easily  applied.  Way  back  in  19 14 
Havelock  had  seen  in  some  of  the  last  medical  journals  to  come  out 
of  Germany  an  advertisement  of  a  chemical  contraceptive.  He  had 
mentioned  it  to  me,  and  ever  since  I  had  been  eager  to  track  it  down. 
In  pre-War  Germany  every  advertised  product  had  been  required  to 
live  up  to  the  claims  made  for  it ;  the  public  must  not  be  misled.  Thus 
I  was  convinced  that  if  the  notice  had  stated  it  was  to  prevent  con- 
ception, the  assertion  was  true.  No  news  of  it  had  come  since  the  War, 
and  I  wished  to  ascertain  whether  it  was  still  being  manufactured. 
Perhaps  this  formula  would  be  the  solution  to  our  problem. 

I  had  a  secondary  reason  also  for  going  to  Germany — to  investigate 
the  decline  in  the  birth  rate.  It  was  said  half  the  married  women  had 
become  barren  during  the  blockade  for  lack  of  proper  food.  I  was 
always  looking  for  evidence  to  support  and  strengthen  our  arguments, 
and,  consequently,  wanted  to  discover  what  had  been  learned  of  the 
relation  between  vitamins  and  fertility. 

Berlin  was  cold  and  dark  when  Rose  Witcop  and  I,  about  eleven 
at  night,  arrived  at  Neukoln,  a  special  proletarian  section  of  the  city. 
The  train  was  late,  an  unusual  state  of  things  in  efficient  Germany,  but 
this  was  the  period  of  her  greatest  disorganization.  The  telegram  which 
had  been  sent  to  Rose's  sister  and  brother-in-law,  Milly  and  Rudolph 

280 


DO   YE   HEAR   THE   CHILDREN    WEEPING?  28l 

Rocker,  had  apparently  not  been  delivered ;  nobody  met  us.  There  were 
no  taxis,  no  carriages,  no  lamps,  no  lights  in  the  windows  to  relieve 
the  pitch  blackness.  A  sleepy,  disgruntled  porter  led  us  across  the  street 
to  an  insignificant  hotel.  He  knocked  at  the  door ;  a  head  popped  out 
of  a  window  above.  "Two  ladies  want  to  stay  overnight."  The  pro- 
prietress said  she  could  give  us  nothing  to  eat,  but  that  we  could  have 
a  room.  We  accepted  gladly,  climbed  up  a  ladder  into  the  same  bed, 
piled  high  with  feathered  mattresses  above  and  below  us,  and  settled 
ourselves  to  comforting  sleep  after  the  long  and  tiresome  journey. 

In  the  morning,  refreshed,  we  took  a  tram  to  the  Rockers'  small 
apartment.  Rudolph  was  a  syndicalist,  a  friend  of  Portet,  and  had 
been  interned  in  a  concentration  camp  near  London  during  the  War. 
Both  Milly  and  Rudolph  had  suffered  great  privations  after  their  re- 
turn. But,  although  food  was  very  scarce,  they  were  more  than  prodi- 
gal and  kind  in  sharing  with  us. 

Germany  was  still  no  place  for  casual  visitors  in  1920.  She  seemed 
dead,  crushed,  broken.  Street  traffic,  even  in  a  metropolis  the  size  of 
Berlin,  was  slight.  I  noted  particularly  the  grim  silence  everywhere  ; 
people  had  forgotten  how  to  smile.  They  were  thankful  for  the  Revo- 
lution, but  it  had  not  brought  much  relief,  and  the  winter  to  come  was 
dreaded.  Instead  of  displaying  food  or  clothing,  the  windows  of  shop 
after  shop  on  street  after  street  were  decorated  only  with  streamers 
of  colored  paper. 

Everybody  was  ravenous  for  fresh  vegetables ;  money  meant  noth- 
ing, food  everything.  I  saw  old  peasant  women  coming  in  from  the 
country  with  bags  of  potatoes  on  their  backs.  Fifteen  minutes  after 
emptying  them  on  to  pushcarts  they  were  sold  out.  The  only  fruit 
to  be  had  were  plums,  and  that  is  how  I  remember  it  was  late  summer 
in  Berlin ;  it  is  curious  how  such  memories  crop  up. 

Ordinarily  I  could  go  without  eating  if  I  had  plenty  of  water,  but 
in  Berlin  I  found  myself  haunting  grocery  stores  like  a  hungry  animal, 
examining  each  new  article  avariciously.  I  cannot  as  a  rule  bear  tinned 
milk  and  will  not  give  it  to  babies,  yet  here  when  I  saw  a  can  of  Amer- 
ican evaporated  milk,  I  found  myself  viewing  it  with  glowing  eyes. 
I  was  disgusted  with  myself.  Nothing  satisfied  my  appetite  except 
eggs,  and  these,  along  with  milk,  could  be  purchased  only  on  pre- 
scription from  a  doctor.  Meat  was  reduced  to  half  a  pound  a  week  for 


282  MARGARET    SANGER 

each  person,  but  I  had  no  ration  card.  A  neighbor  of  the  Rockers 
obtained  some  bread  for  me  and  gave  me  her  potatoes  although  she 
and  her  three  lovely  daughters  had  only  rice  as  a  substitute.  I  was  in 
tears  over  her  generosity. 

For  months  many  families  had  existed  on  nothing  but  turnips. 
They  ate  turnip  soup,  turnips  raw,  turnips  mashed,  turnip  salad,  turnip 
coffee,  until  their  whole  systems  revolted  physically  against  the  sight 
of  turnips.  The  contact  with  other  persons  in  trams,  halls,  churches, 
even  streets,  was  nauseating;  in  a  few  minutes  the  fumes  of  turnip 
from  their  bodies  was  so  offensive  that  they  became  almost  unendur- 
able to  themselves. 

I  went  into  a  two-room  home,  clean  but  overflowing  with  ten  chil- 
dren, five  born  since  the  War,  starvation  horribly  stamped  on  their 
faces.  The  oldest  was  twelve — still  too  young  to  work.  The  father, 
a  locksmith,  had  no  job.  All  were  living  on  a  hundred  marks  received 
every  week  from  Government  Unemployment  Insurance.  It  was  now 
Saturday,  and  not  one  crumb  or  morsel  remained  to  tide  them  over 
until  the  next  payment  on  Monday.  They  had  eaten  no  breakfast,  no 
dinner,  and  the  father  had  gone  to  the  woods  to  search  for  mushrooms 
to  keep  them  alive. 

Even  men  who  had  employment  were  working  only  three  days  a 
week,  averaging  a  hundred  and  fifty  marks  for  a  family,  and  marks 
were  fifty  to  the  American  dollar.  The  best  food  had  to  be  given  to 
them  because  they  were  the  earners.  Women  were  the  real  sufferers ; 
they  had  to  go  without  or  subsist  on  what  they  could  scrape  together. 
They  nursed  their  babies  beyond  two  years  to  supply  milk,  and  all  their 
time  was  occupied  in  a  constant  hunt  to  find  nourishment  for  the 
older  ones. 

I  heard  countless  stories  from  mothers  who  had  been  tortured  by 
watching  their  children  slowly  starve  to  death — pinched  faces  growing 
paler,  eyes  more  listless,  heads  drooping  lower  day  by  day  until  finally 
they  did  not  even  ask  for  food.  You  saw  a  tiny  thing  playing  on  the 
street  suddenly  run  to  a  tree  or  fence  and  lean  against  it  while  he 
coughed  and  had  a  hemorrhage.  Others  like  him  were  dying  of  tuber- 
culosis from  lack  of  eggs,  butter,  and  milk — so  many  cows  had  been 
sent  to  France.  Yet  they  came  up  to  me  and  offered  to  sell  their  pre- 


DO    YE    HEAR    THE    CHILDREN    WEEPING?  283 

scriptions  thinking  that  I,  as  a  foreigner,  had  money  to  buy  them; 
they  themselves  had  none  for  these  luxuries. 

The  old-fashioned  warrior  who  entered  with  the  sword  and  killed 
his  victims  outright  had  "my  respect  after  witnessing  the  "peace  con- 
ditions" of  Germany. 

The  Quaker  food  stations  admitted  only  children  who  were  ill  and 
only  mothers  who  were  more  than  seven  months  pregnant  or  who 
were  nursing  babies  less  than  four  months  old.  The  spectacle  of  one  of 
these  women  bringing  two  or  three  of  her  brood,  not  sick  enough  to 
be  regularly  fed,  to  share  her  own  soup  was  too  sad  and  overwhelm- 
ing to  bear.  Those  in  charge  of  the  distribution  wanted  each  mother 
herself  to  eat  for  the  benefit  of  her  unborn  child  or  nursing  infant,  and 
were  already  crowded  to  capacity,  feeding  three  and  four  hundred  at 
a  time  on  cocoa  and  rolls  made  from  white  flour.  But  they  could  not 
bring  themselves  to  exclude  the  little  scarecrows  with  large,  starry 
eyes,  pipestem  legs,  and  hands  from  which  the  flesh  had  fallen  until 
they  were  like  claws.  On  one  of  my  visits  the  "sister"  had  them  stand 
up  and  then  asked,  "Where  have  you  been?" 

"To  America,"  they  chorused. 

"What  have  you  to  say?" 

"We  love  America.  We  thank  America." 

I  did  not  instantly  comprehend,  but  it  was  explained  to  me  that 
they  called  the  station  Amerika  in  token  of  their  gratitude. 

To  account  for  the  sorry  state  in  which  they  found  themselves  the 
Germans  were  groping  to  fix  the  blame  either  within  their  country  or 
on  some  foreign  power.  All  seemed  of  the  opinion  that  had  the  United 
States  not  entered  the  War,  none  would  have  been  victor  and  none 
vanquished;  this,  they  said,  would  have  meant  a  lasting  peace.  Yet 
they  felt  little  animosity  towards  us.  What  there  was  had  been  largely 
wiped  out  by  the  aid  of  the  Hoover  Commission.  Furthermore,  they 
still  hoped  we  might  be  an  influence  in  loosening  the  Treaty  chains 
which  kept  them  helpless  and  bound.  When  I  asked  them  why  they  had 
accepted  the  humiliating  terms  at  Versailles  of  which  they  complained 
so  bitterly,  they  replied  they  had  been  told  that,  had  they  not  done  so, 
vast  territories  which  supposedly  had  been  mined  would  have  been 
blown  up  and  huge  populations  would  have  been  annihilated. 


284  MARGARET    SANGER 

The  military  party  accused  the  Socialists  of  having  stabbed  them 
in  the  back  and  brought  about  defeat  through  the  leadership  of  such 
pacifists  as  Karl  Liebknecht  and  Rosa  Luxemburg,  who  had  paid  with 
their  lives ;  the  Socialists  and  workers  regretted  they  had  not  united 
with  Russia  and,  combining  their  own  scientific  and  technical  knowl- 
edge with  her  raw  materials,  conquered  the  world  and  thus  molded 
all  civilization  to  their  ideals. 

Both  classes  sincerely  believed  that  France  wanted  to  destroy  them 
utterly.  I  saw  something  of  the  reason  for  their  feeling  one  day  when 
a  tram  stopped  to  let  off  passengers,  and  a  French  automobile  filled 
with  French  officers,  instead  of  halting  the  prescribed  number  of  feet 
away,  plowed  right  through,  knocking  down  two  people  and  never 
even  pausing  to  see  what  havoc  it  had  created.  The  spectators  gazed  at 
the  bodies  lying  there  waiting  for  the  ambulance.  They  did  not  dare 
shake  their  fists,  but  anyone  could  tell  from  the  pitch  of  their  voices, 
their  expressions  of  passion  and  anger,  how  bitter  was  their  resent- 
ment. 

The  women  broke  down  all  the  reserves  of  my  emotion.  They  had 
been  at  one  time  the  most  advanced  in  Europe,  politically,  economically, 
and  socially,  and,  although  they  had  had  to  work  harder  at  the  gym- 
nasiums than  the  men  because  higher  marks  had  been  required  of  them, 
they  had  been  really  on  a  par.  But  now  a  frightful  retrogression  had 
occurred.  Working  women  had  been  forced  down  to  a  state  beside  the 
lower  animals ;  they  had  become  drudges  in  the  fields  in  place  of  draft 
horses.  I  saw  one  who  could  not  have  been  past  twenty-five  carrying 
a  huge  basket  of  vegetables  strapped  to  her  back,  the  weight  of 
which  threw  her  forward  so  that  I  expected  any  minute  to  see  her  go 
on  all  fours. 

An  impressive  and  tragic  poster  by  Kathe  Kollwitz  was  displayed  on 
various  corners.  It  showed  a  woman  with  head  thrown  back,  eyes 
closed,  arms  crossed  over  breast,  and  was  captioned  simply,  "Waiting." 
The  human  figures  you  saw  on  the  streets  looked  out  of  eyes  dried  by 
suffering  and  deepened  by  hunger.  They  had  no  faith,  no  hope,  no 
philosophy ;  they  were  resigned  to  love  or  hatred,  peace  or  war,  a  living 
death  or  a  sudden  end. 

Throughout  Europe,  governments  were  clamoring  for  bigger  popu- 
lations; France  was  offering  bonuses  for  large  families.  "Our  babies 


DO   YE   HEAR   THE   CHILDREN    WEEPING?  285 

are  dying;  give  us  more  babies."  Among  European  labor  groups  only 
the  syndicalists  of  France  had  recognized  excessive  population  as  det- 
rimental to  the  working  classes. 

The  deficiency  in  Germany  of  two  million  lives  sacrificed  in  the  War 
had  been  made  up  by  the  thousands  returned  from  Alsace-Lorraine, 
from  the  former  province  of  Posen,  and  the  deportees  from  England, 
France,  and  Italy.  There  were  not  nearly  enough  positions  to  go  round. 
Yet  the  nationalists,  who  had  tried  to  cover  the  bitter  pill  of  imperial- 
istic ambitions  with  a  sugar-coating  of  patriotism,  still  estimated  the 
world  in  terms  of  numerical  greatness  and  women  as  mere  machines 
in  the  cradle  competition  of  human  production.  Even  the  German  So- 
cialists, following  in  the  footsteps  of  Marx,  opposed  Malthusianism 
vigorously  in  and  out  of  season. 

A  Neo-Malthusian  congress  had  been  held  in  Dresden  in  1912,  but 
the  movement  then  organized  by  Maria  Stritt  had  practically  gone  out 
of  existence  and  its  place  taken  by  a  more  popular  demand  for  the  right 
to  abortion.  For  a  single  year  the  statistics  of  Berlin  indicated  that  out 
of  forty-four  thousand  known  pregnancies  twenty-three  thousand 
were  terminated  by  this  means,  though  it  was  technically  illegal. 
Women  were  now  campaigning  for  a  bill  before  the  Reichstag  to  per- 
mit operations  to  be  performed  lawfully  in  hospitals,  where  fatalities 
could  be  reduced  by  proper  sanitary  care.  Not  one  of  those  with  whom 
I  talked  believed  in  abortion  as  a  practice ;  it  was  the  principle  for  which 
they  were  standing.  They  were  resolved  to  have  no  more  babies  for 
cannon  fodder,  nor  until  they  could  rear  them  properly. 

Most  of  the  doctors  whom  I  interviewed  said  that  what  Germany 
needed  was  children  and  lots  of  them.  I  asked  one  if  the  medical  pro- 
fession, as  a  whole,  were  doing  anything  to  prevent  entrance  into  the 
world  of  those  children  whose  backs  were  so  weak  that  they  could  never 
sit  up  straight,  whose  bones  were  too  soft  to  hold  the  weight  of  their 
bodies.  He  answered  abruptly,  "By  aborting  the  mothers  we  are  doing 
our  best  to  cope  with  conditions  as  we  find  them.  It  is  not  our  work  to 
change  them." 

I  was  hounding  everybody  to  learn  the  whereabouts  of  the  contra- 
ceptive formula  for  which  I  was  searching,  and  was  finally  given  the 
name  of  a  gynecologist  who  should  know,  if  anybody  did,  where  it 
could  be  found.  I  made  an  appointment,  and  he  greeted  me  in  the  most 


286  MARGARET   SANGER 

cordial  way.  When  I  questioned  him  about  the  reported  sterility  of 
German  women,  he  agreed  with  the  argument  that,  the  situation  being 
what  it  was  in  the  country,  the  population  should  be  checked  for  the 
next  five  years.  "Here  is  a  friend  indeed,"  I  said  to  myself. 

I  then  gently  brought  up  the  subject  of  abortion.  "Doesn't  this  seem 
a  ridiculous  substitute  for  contraceptives?" 

The  doctor  rose,  his  chest  sticking  out ;  he  buttoned  his  coat,  bowed 
formally,  and  inquired,  "Where  did  you  say  you  came  from?" 

"New  York  City." 

"Are  you  sure  you  are  not  from  France  or  Belgium  ?" 

"Certainly  not." 

"Nobody  who  has  the  welfare  of  Germany  at  heart  could  talk  to  me 
as  you  have  this  morning.  Only  enemies  could  come  here  to  give  such 
information  to  our  women." 

I  wished  he  would  sit  down ;  he  made  me  nervous.  But  I  went  on. 
"Why  is  it  such  an  act  of  enmity  to  advocate  contraceptives  rather  than 
abortions  ?  Abortions,  as  you  know  yourself,  may  be  quite  dangerous, 
whereas  reliable  contraceptives  are  harmless.  Why  do  you  oppose 
them?" 

To  my  horror  he  replied,  "We  will  never  give  over  the  control  of 
our  numbers  to  the  women  themselves.  What,  let  them  control  the 
future  of  the  human  race  ?  With  abortions  it  is  in  our  hands ;  we  make 
the  decisions,  and  they  must  come  to  us." 

That  was  not  the  tone  of  this  doctor  alone  but  also  that  of  most  of 
his  confreres. 

Thinking  that  Dr.  Magnus  Hirschfeld  might  know  about  the  for- 
mula, Havelock  had  given  me  a  letter  to  him,  and  I  presented  it  at  the 
Institute  of  Sex  Psychology,  where  abnormalities  were  being  studied 
and  treated.  This  most  extraordinary  mansion,  bestowed  by  a  prince 
of  Bavaria  who  had  himself  been  cured  of  inversion  by  Dr.  Hirschfeld, 
was  furnished  sumptuously.  On  the  walls  of  the  stairway  were  pic- 
tures of  homosexuals — men  decked  out  as  women  in  huge  hats,  ear- 
rings, and  feminine  make-up;  also  women  in  men's  clothing  and 
toppers.  Further  up  the  steps  were  photographs  of  the  same  individuals 
after  they  had  been  brought  back  to  normality,  some  of  them  through 
adaptation  of  the  Voronoff  experiments  in  the  transplantation  of  sex 


DO    YE    HEAR   THE    CHILDREN    WEEPING?  287 

glands.  It  was  not  a  place  I  particularly  liked,  although  I  was  interested 
to  see  how  a  problem  which  had  cropped  up  everywhere  in  the  post- 
War  confusion  was  being  attacked. 

Dr.  Hirschfeld  wasNkind  and  gave  me  the  address  of  a  firm  in 
Dresden  which  he  believed  might  be  manufacturing  the  formula,  so 
off  I  went  to  that  city.  It  was  memorable  for  my  meeting  with  Maria 
Stritt,  a  darling  little  old  lady,  as  quaint  in  her  way  as  Dr.  Vickery  in 
hers.  This  tiny  aristocrat,  like  one  of  the  dolls  for  which  her  city  was 
famous,  had  a  fine  vigorous  mind,  and  spoke  English  with  care  and  a 
better  choice  of  words  than  most  Americans.  Again  I  made  the  rounds 
of  the  doctors  and  again  found  none  concerned  over  birth  control ;  I 
went  to  the  address  where  the  formula  was  supposed  to  be,  only  to  be 
directed  on  to  Munich. 

Munich,  to  me  the  most  lovely  city  in  Germany,  seemed  the  most 
prosperous  of  any  I  had  visited.  I  noticed  a  difference  immediately; 
the  streets  were  cleaner,  the  people  less  hungry-looking.  There  was 
more  food,  more  clothing  in  the  shops,  and  much  greater  activity.  It 
had  always  been  synonymous  in  my  mind  with  music  and  Lieb- 
fraumilch,  and  I  was  delighted  to  be  asked  to  dine  at  a  hotel  which  I 
was  told  was  the  smartest  and  gayest  in  town.  "Oh,  we  envy  you.  You'll 
have  dancing,  you'll  have  wine,  you'll  have  everything."  But  it  turned 
out  to  be  a  night  club  in  the  most  blatant  New  York  style,  one  table 
elbowing  another,  the  people — Germans,  not  tourists — dancing  to  last 
year's  jazz,  the  whole  place  shrieking  nouveaux  riches.  This,  too, 
was  part  of  post- War  life. 

Bavarian  gemutlichkeit  could  not  be  altogether  downed.  On  Satur- 
days the  trams  were  literally  jammed  with  men  and  women,  young 
and  old,  who  had  put  on  their  climbing  clothes,  donned  their  packs,  and 
here  hieing  themselves  away  to  near-by  resorts  or  to  the  hills.  With 
them  went  their  guitars  or  accordions,  and  when  the  singing  began 
everybody  knew  all  the  words — no  tum-de-tum-de-tum.  If  they  did 
not  have  their  own  instruments  there  was  sure  to  be  a  wandering 
musician  to  play,  and  the  floors  of  every  hostelry  or  open-air  bier- 
garten  were  literally  filled  with  whirling,  waltzing  figures.  Everyone 
seemed  able  to  enter  into  the  folk  dances,  although  to  me  they  appeared 
complicated — many  steps,  much  precision,  and  a  great  deal  of  dignity. 


288  MARGARET    SANGER 

Hunger  and  poverty  existed  in  plenty,  however,  in  the  city.  Hospi- 
tals were  lacking  in  the  simplest  and  most  ordinary  articles — no  soap, 
no  cod-liver  oil,  no  rubber  sheets,  insufficient  clean  linen.  Even  the 
babies  had  to  lie  all  day  in  wet  diapers,  and  consequently  the  poor 
little  waifs  were  a  sad,  miserable  lot.  Another  tragic  thing  which  gave 
me  nightmare  for  weeks  was  to  see  children's  mouths  covered  with 
running  sores,  because  the  sole  available  meat  and  milk  came  from 
cattle  suffering  with  hoof-and-mouth  disease. 

Here  at  Munich  the  "birth  strike"  was  most  violent.  The  former 
medical  chief  of  the  Communists  told  me  the  women  of  Bavaria  were 
determined  to  stop  having  babies ;  he  himself  had  given  information 
to  thousands  and  had  intended  to  establish  clinics  all  over  the  state  had 
the  Communist  Republic  remained  in  power. 

Only  the  preceding  spring  the  Communist  red  flag  had  for  three 
weeks  flown  from  the  house  tops  of  Munich.  I  met  representatives 
from  both  sides  of  the  political  arena.  The  middle-  and  upper-class 
conservatives  claimed  the  revolutionists  had  not  been  capable  of  man- 
aging affairs,  being  good  agitators  but  not  good  organizers — able  to 
start  things  but  not  knowing  how  to  finish  them.  They  had  not  given  up 
their  guns ;  money  had  been  put  aside  and  peasant  costumes  and  boots 
were  ready  for  escape,  because  the  existing  bitterness  made  it  likely  the 
struggle  was  not  yet  settled.  Communist  leaders,  on  the  other  hand, 
claimed  they  had  allowed  their  enemies  to  flee  and  then  had  been  tricked 
and  fooled,  and  knew  at  last  they  could  expect  no  quarter.  Their  ideals, 
their  faith  in  humanity,  their  consideration,  had  cost  them  their  lives 
and  liberty,  and  they  would  not  forget  this  valuable  lesson. 

At  a  meeting  of  the  Communist  Party  I  was  introduced  to  Mrs. 
Erich  Muhsam  who,  with  her  husband  and  their  friend  Landau,  had 
gone  to  the  front  and  distributed  leaflets  to  call  the  boys  back  home. 
Landau,  a  gentle  soul  who  so  believed  in  the  goodness  of  man  that  he 
had  pleaded  with  the  soldiers  to  be  brothers  and  not  to  take  life,  had 
been  kicked  and  clubbed  to  death  by  the  White  Guard,  which  had  after- 
wards marched  to  the  Muhsam  apartment  and,  when  they  could  not 
find  anybody  there,  had  wrecked  it  with  machine  guns.  Fortunately  for 
the  Miihsams  they  were  already  in  jail. 

Though  the  Revolution  was  supposed  to  be  over,  Erich  Muhsam 
was  still  imprisoned.  In  every  country  during  such  upheavals  thousands 


DO   YE   HEAR   THE   CHILDREN    WEEPING?  289 

are  cast  into  jail  and,  unless  some  other  upheaval  occurs  to  get  them 
out,  they  remain  there ;  many  pacifists  in  the  United  States  were  not 
freed  until  long  after  the  Armistice. 

In  1928  I  saw  Erich  Muhsam — every  inch  a  poet,  an  artistic  and 
delicate  organism,  almost  helpless-looking.  In  1935,  under  Nazi  rule, 
he  was  returned  to  a  concentration  camp — a  hangover  on  the  black  list. 

The  account  of  his  fellow  prisoners  ran  something  like  this :  One 
afternoon  he  had  been  told  to  "report  at  headquarters  and  bring  a 
rope." 

"Where  can  I  find  a  rope?" 

"I  don't  know.  Get  it !" 

"They're  going  to  kill  you,"  he  was  warned  as  he  started  out,  still 
lacking  a  rope. 

"Oh,  it's  just  one  of  their  jokes — a  form  of  torture." 

"You  may  be  right ;  you've  scarcely  lifted  a  voice." 

But  that  evening  his  comrades  discovered  him  dangling  by  the  neck 
from  a  beam.  They  said  he  could  never  have  climbed  up  himself  and 
that,  furthermore,  he  had  been  beaten  to  death  before  Jie  had  been 
hung  there. 

Nevertheless,  officially  he  had  committed  suicide. 

I  met  in  Germany  probably  a  hundred  thorough-going  conserva- 
tives and  only  one  Muhsam,  and  yet  he  it  was  who  stood  out  spectacu- 
larly. 

My  own  interests  were  keeping  me  busy  enough.  I  finally  found  that 
the  formula  I  was  seeking  was  made  in  Friedrichshaven,  on  Lake  Con- 
stance. I  initiated  a  correspondence  with  the  chemist,  asking  him  to 
come  to  Munich,  and  enclosing  stamps  to  make  sure  of  his  reply.  He 
could  not  make  the  journey  but,  instead,  invited  me  to  Friedrichshaven. 

All  the  passengers  on  dismounting  at  the  station  seemed  to  have 
someone  to  meet  them  except  myself.  I  noticed  a  smallish  man  with 
what  appeared  to  be  bangs  under  his  hat,  front  and  back,  standing  on 
the  platform  and  holding  a  tight  bunch  of  wild  flowers  wrapped  up  in 
a  newspaper,  a  matching  one  in  the  buttonhole  of  his  coat,  but  as  far 
as  I  could  see  he  was  serving  no  special  purpose  there.  I  went  to  a 
hotel,  and  in  a  very  short  while  the  little  man  himself  arrived,  having 
identified  me  as  the  American  lady  he  had  come  to  greet.  His  quaint 
bouquet  was  my  welcome  to  Friedrichshaven. 


29O  MARGARET   SANGER 

The  chemist,  with  his  father  and  brothers,  ran  an  unpretentious 
factory  which,  in  addition  to  other  products,  was  making  the  contra- 
ceptive in  the  form  of  a  jelly.  It  had  been  put  out  before  the  War,  then 
dropped,  and  was  now  just  starting  up  again  and  beginning  to  find  a 
market  in  Germany.  He  feared  to  let  me  go  near  his  establishment, 
suspicious  that  America  might  steal  his  formula.  But  he  showed  me  a 
picture  of  it,  and  gave  me  a  few  sample  tubes,  saying  I  could  ob- 
tain others  from  his  sister,  who  was  going  to  act  as  his  agent  in  New 
York.  Thus  was  inaugurated  a  new  phase  in  the  movement — the  use 
of  a  chemical  contraceptive. 

I  had  letters  of  introduction  to  several  people  in  Russia,  and  had 
hoped  to  be  able  to  go  there,  but  I  had  commenced  handing  out  my 
extra  dresses,  underwear,  stockings,  shoes  in  Berlin ;  my  friends  had 
so  little  and  were  so  generous  that  I  could  not  endure  it,  arid  now,  in 
the  face  of  an  approaching  winter  of  hardship,  without  wardrobe  and 
no  prospect  of  securing  one  or  even  sufficient  food,  I  had  to  abandon 
the  Russian  plan. 

I  had  talked  clinic,  clinic,  clinic  while  I  was  in  England.  Having 
myself  been  convinced,  I  wanted  the  Neo-Malthusians  also  to  believe 
that  it  was  a  better  way  than  advice  through  literature.  A  few  of  them 
were  assembling  to  meet  me  in  the  Netherlands,  and  thither  I  turned 
my  steps.  As  soon  as  the  train  north  was  over  the  border,  cream  was 
brought  and  delicious  fruit;  the  contrast  between  one  side  and  the 
other  was  too  obviously  brutal  and  awful.  It  almost  made  me  ill  to  see 
so  many  delicacies  in  the  Dutch  shop  windows  when  children  in  Ger- 
many were  starving. 

With  the  Drysdales,  to  Amsterdam  came  Dr.  Norman  Haire,  Aus- 
tralian born,  a  gynecologist  who  had  settled  in  London,  sensed  the 
public  interest  in  birth  control,  informed  himself  thoroughly  on  the 
subject,  written  a  great  deal  about  it,  and  become  prominent  in  the 
movement,  advocating  contraception  from  his  Harley  Street  office. 

As  Dr.  Haire  and  I  went  around  visiting  clinics  we  found  that  the 
countless  stores  where  contraceptives  were  sold  had  fitting  rooms  in 
back  with  midwives  in  charge.  They  did  not  maintain  the  old  Rutgers 
standards.  I  was  disappointed  to  see  the  deterioration  which  had  taken 
place  since  191 5.  During  the  reorganization  period  of  Europe  the 
tendency,  under  Russian  influence,  was  for  young  laborites  to  be  in 


DO    YE    HEAR    THE    CHILDREN    WEEPING?  29 1 

charge  of  things,  and  they  aimed  to  turn  out  Dr.  Rutgers  and  the  Dutch 
Neo-Malthusians  and  put  clinics,  which  were  dedicated  to  the  work- 
ers, on  a  strictly  utilitarian  basis.  Here  as  elsewhere  they  could  agitate 
and  tear  apart  but  lacked  executive  ability.  The  new  board,  composed 
mainly  of  laymen,  did  not  realize  that  such  technical  knowledge  and 
experience  was  required  as  only  a  physician  like  Dr.  Rutgers  pos- 
sessed. He  was  a  sad  and  unhappy  man,  profoundly  discouraged  over 
the  odds  against  which  he  had  to  struggle. 

Nonetheless,  my  English  friends  were  converted  to  the  idea  of 
clinics,  and  Bessie  Drysdale  and  Dr.  Haire  planned  to  open  one  soon 
in  London. 


Chapter  Twenty-three 


IN  TIME  WE  ONLY  CAN  BEGIN 


"Enough,  'tis  the  word  of  a  Grand  Bashaw; 
You  needn't  to  bother  about  the  law. 
He  told  me  they  wasn't  to  speak  at  all, 
You  don't  need  a  warrant  to  clear  a  hall. 
He  told  me  to  tell  them  to  stir  their  stumps; 
When  'Clubs!'  is  the  order,  then  clubs  is  trumps. 
What  else  would  it  be  when  I'm  just  a  cop 
And  he  is  a  Reverend  Archbishop?" 

ARTHUR  GUITERMAN 


IN  confirming  my  conviction  in  19 18,  Judge  Frederick  E.  Crane  of 
the  Appellate  Division  of  the  Supreme  Court  of  New  York  had 
for  the  first  time  interpreted  the  section  of  the  state  law  which  per- 
mitted a  licensed  physician  to  give  contraceptive  advice  for  the  "cure 
or  prevention  of  disease" ;  and,  further,  he  had  taken  from  Webster's 
Dictionary  the  broad  definition  of  disease  as  any  alteration  in  the  state 
of  body  which  caused  or  threatened  pain  and  sickness,  thus  extending 
the  meaning  of  the  word  far  beyond  the  original  scope  of  syphilis  and 
gonorrhea.  But,  never  satisfied,  I  wanted  women  to  have  birth  control 
for  economic  and  social  reasons.  ) 

Therefore,  in  January,  1921,  Anne  Kennedy  and  I  went  to  Albany 
to  find  a  sponsor  for  a  bill  which  was  to  change  the  New  York  law. 
It  was  not  only  a  question  of  amending  it,  but  also  a  means  of  edu- 
cating the  public,  of  explaining  our  cause  through  the  medium  of 
legislation.  Months  of  preparation  were  required,  hours  of  tramp- 
ing the  floors  of  State  buildings  at  Albany,  interviewing  one  per- 
son after  another,  securing  promises  of  help,  breaking  down  hostility. 

When  people  said  that  women  who  would  not  have  children  were 
selfish  and  preferred  lap  dogs,  I  replied,  "All  right.  Then  it  is  better 

292 


IN    TIME   WE   ONLY   CAN   BEGIN  293 

for  the  children  not  to  be  born."  That  type  of  woman  should  die 
out  biologically,  just  as  did  the  different  species  that  were  caught  in 
the  mire  and  slime  and  could  not  reproduce  themselves.  It  is  a 
principle  that  applies  to  human  beings  also,  that  they  must  work 
through  their  environment  in  order  to  survive. 

As  soon  as  you  could  get  out  of  people's  minds  what  birth  control 
was  not,  they  almost  invariably  said,  "Why,  yes,  certainly,  that  sounds 
reasonable."  Many  of  the  lawmakers  themselves  believed  that  the 
measure  might  be  of  great  benefit,  but  the  party  whip  cut  too  deeply. 

Birth  control  was  once  described  by  Heywood  Broun  as  dynamite 
from  the  point  of  view  of  the  politician.  If  he  supported  it,  he  might 
lose  votes ;  if  he  opposed  it,  he  might  lose  votes.  "There  is  nothing  a 
politician  hates  more  than  losing  votes.  He  would  much  rather  the 
subject  never  came  up." 

One  assemblyman  from  Brooklyn  at  first  agreed  to  introduce  our 
bill  and  then  wrote,  "I  very  much  regret,  but  after  consulting  with  some 
of  the  leaders  of  the  Assembly,  I  have  been  strongly  advised  not  to 
offer  your  bill.  I  am  told  it  would  do  me  an  injury  that  I  could  not 
overcome  for  some  time."  Another  refused  on  the  ground  of  "levity 
from  his  associates."  But  a  few  years  later  we  found  a  young, 
courageous  legislator  who  introduced  a  bill  and  secured  hearings. 
Although  it  was  defeated,  the  atmosphere  was  clarified. 

Mrs.  Hepburn,  who  had  been  in  the  suffrage  movement  early  and 
had  been  one  of  the  sponsors  of  Mrs.  Pankhurst's  tour  of  the  United 
States,  now  lived  in  Hartford,  Connecticut.  Although  the  mother  of 
six,  including  the  actress,  Katherine,  she  retained  her  youthful  face 
and  figure,  being  almost  like  a  sister  to  her  children,  playmate  and 
companion  for  them  at  tennis,  golf,  and  swimming.  Young  men  asked 
her  to  dinner  with  the  same  pleasure  that  they  asked  her  daughters. 

Closely  associated  with  her  was  Mrs.  George  H.  Day,  Sr.,  a  grand- 
mother in  192 1.  She  always  came  from  Hartford  for  every  Board 
meeting  of  the\ League  and,  in  turn,  her  house  was  a  place  of  refuge 
for  poor,  worn-down  friends  of  causes.  They  could  go  there  and  be 
ministered  to  by  a  staff  of  servants  and  come  back,  rested  and  re- 
juvenated. 

With  two  such  seasoned  campaigners  to  back  us,  we  carried  our 
legislative  activities  into  Connecticut,  the  only  state  where  "to  use  a 


294  MARGARET    SANGER 

contraceptive"  was  a  crime — as  though  it  were  possible  to  have  a 
policeman  in  every  home !  A  mere  six  years  had  elapsed  since  the  move- 
ment had  begun ;  consequently,  that  we  were  now  able  to  get  a  hearing 
was  in  itself  a  triumph.  Nevertheless,  no  easy  task  faced  us ;  so  much 
red  tape  had  to  be  broken  through.  But  here  at  Hartford  we  did  suc- 
ceed in  finding  an  introducer  who  could  hold  his  own  under  ridicule. 
Then  we  had  to  educate  him,  feed  him  with  facts — medical,  social, 
historical — so  that  he  could  defend  his  bill. 

A  young  priest  stood  forth  as  our  chief  opponent,  basing  his  ob- 
jections on  the  laws  of  nature,  which  he  claimed  were  contravened  by 
birth  control.  Fortunately  the  committee  had  a  sense  of  humor.  In  my 
ten-minute  rebuttal  I  was  able  to  answer  the  "against  nature"  argu- 
ment as  Francis  Place  had  done  a  hundred  years  earlier.  I  turned 
the  priest's  own  words  on  himself  by  asking  why  he  should  counter- 
act nature's  decree  of  impaired  vision  by  wearing  eyeglasses,  and 
why,  above  all,  was  he  celibate,  thus  outraging  nature's  primary  de- 
mand on  the  human  species — to  propagate  its  kind.  The  laughter 
practically  ended  the  "unnatural"  thesis  for  some  time. 

In  New  Jersey  another  attempt  was  made.  The  law  there  allowed 
doctors  to  give  information  for  "a  just  cause,"  but  they  were  fearful 
of  including  minor  ailments  under  this  interpretation.  The  bill  intro- 
duced at  Trenton  had  a  hearing,  but  it  also  failed  to  pass. 

The  whole  thing  was  nerve-wracking  but  was  part  of  the  experi- 
ence we  gained.  And,  furthermore,  whenever  we  had  hearings,  the  local 
work  progressed  much  more  rapidly  as  a  result.  Nothing  was  lost, 
however  expensive  the  plowing  and  sowing.  Apparent  defeats  were 
victories  in  the  long  run. 

It  then  seemed  to  me  from  glancing  over  current  clippings  and 
publications  that  people  all  over  the  world  were  discussing  birth  con- 
trol. The  English  Baron  Dawson  of  Penn  had  been  Court  Physician  to 
Edward  VII  and  had  continued  in  this  same  post  during  the  reign  of 
George  V.  But  he  had  broader  interests,  too.  One  of  the  great  events 
in  the  history  of  the  movement  was  his  speech  at  the  Church  Congress 
at  Birmingham  in  answer  to  the  doctrine  promulgated  by  the  Bishops 
at  Lambeth  that  sexual  union  should  take  place  for  the  purpose  of 
procreation  only : 


IN    TIME    WE    ONLY    CAN    BEGIN  295 

Imagine  a  young  married  couple  in  love  with  each  other  being  ex- 
pected to  occupy  the  same  room  and  to  abstain  for  two  years.  The 
thing  is  preposterous.  You  might  as  well  put  water  by  the  side  of  a 
man  suffering  from  thirst,  and  tell  him  not  to  drink  it.  Romance  and 
deliberate  self-restraint  do  not  to  my  mind  rhyme  very  well  together. 
A  touch  of  madness  to  begin  with  does  no  harm.  Heaven  knows  life 
sobers  it  soon  enough. 

His  speech  caused  an  immense  sensation  throughout  England. 
Headlines  and  streamers  announced,  "King's  Physician  asks  Church 
to  sanction  birth  control."  The  deduction  was  that  His  Majesty  was 
endorsing  it,  and  stolid  Britishers  were  all  agog  at  the  idea  that  Buck- 
ingham Palace  was  now  talking  about  the  subject ;  it  was  hinted  Queen 
Mary  was  not  overpleased. 

On  this  side  of  the  Atlantic  Major  General  John  J.  O'Ryan,  who 
had  commanded  the  Twenty-Seventh  National  Guard  Division,  lec- 
tured on  overpopulation  as  a  cause  for  war.  Frank  Vanderlip,  once 
Assistant  Secretary  of  the  Treasury  and  later  President  of  the  Na- 
tional City  Bank,  had  just  returned  from  Japan,  proclaiming  that 
population  must  be  controlled  because  some  countries  could  no  longer 
feed  themselves.  Here  was  an  army  man  on  the  one  hand,  and  a  finan- 
cier on  the  other,  unprimed,  uncoerced,  even  uninvited,  speaking  out 
of  their  independent  experiences.  They  were  voices  in  the  wilderness, 
oases  in  the  desert,  and  certainly  encouraging  historical  landmarks. 

Among  uneasy  experts  the  sentiment  was  growing  that  population 
pressure  in  Japan  would  soon  create  an  inevitable  explosion.  Indeed, 
one  of  the  familiar  arguments  in  the  United  States  brought  forward 
against  birth  control  was  the  "menace  of  the  Yellow  Peril,"  by  which 
was  meant  specifically,  Japan.  What  folly  to  reduce  our  birth  rate  when 
Orientals  were  multiplying  so  appallingly  fast  that  the  downfall  of 
Western  civilization  might  soon  be  looked  for !  India  and  China  were 
teeming  indiscriminately,  but  their  peoples  were  feeble,  inert,  and  dis- 
eased ;  whereas  the  Japanese  were  being  reared  under  German  health 
traditions,  were  ninety-seven  percent  literate,  and  were  technically 
equipped  for  battle. 

Naturally  I  was  eager  to  learn  as  much  about  this  situation  as  possi- 
ble, and  welcomed  the  opportunity  to  meet  the  Nipponese  friends  of 


296  MARGARET   SANGER 

Gertrude  Boyle,  who  had  married  a  gentleman  of  Japan.  They  always 
appeared  in  pairs  or  groups  of  three,  four,  five  at  a  time,  talking  busily 
in  asides  with  each  other  while  I  exchanged  opinions  with  one.  They 
were  helpful  in  furnishing  me  with  unpublished  facts ;  the  older,  con- 
servative, nationalist,  militarist  party  advocated  greater  numbers,  but 
the  young,  liberal  intellectuals,  many  of  whom  had  attended  Occidental 
universities,  could  see  the  clouds  already  lowering  on  the  horizon  and 
hoped  the  storm  could  be  averted  by  controlled  population  growth. 
Atro,  a  reporter  on  a  New  York  Japanese  paper,  had  been  supplying 
the  last-named  group,  which  in  Tokyo  called  itself  Kaizo,  meaning 
reconstruction,  with  clippings  about  birth  control,  and  several  of  my 
articles  had  been  printed  in  their  publication. 

The  women's  point  of  view  was  graphically  described  to  me  by  the 
Baroness  Shidzue  Ishimoto,  daughter  of  the  head  of  the  great  Hirota 
clan  and  wife  of  Baron  Keikichi  Ishimoto,  a  young  nobleman  who  had 
put  in  practice  his  ideals  of  service.  This  charming,  youthful  and  gra- 
cious matron,  tall  for  her  race  and  equally  beautiful  by  our  standards, 
very  smart  in  her  American  street  costume,  had  in  191 9  come  from  her 
own  land  where  suffrage  for  women  was  still  mentioned  in  awed  tones. 
She  had  studied  our  language  at  a  Y.W.C.A.  business  school,  and  in 
three  months  had  performed  the  extraordinary  accomplishment  of 
mastering  it  sufficiently  to  speak,  write,  and  even  take  dictation  in 
English. 

We  quickly  became  friends  and  she  at  once  foresaw  the  possibilities 
of  birth  control  in  bringing  Japanese  women  out  of  their  long  sup- 
pression in  the  family  system.  She  said  she  intended  to  form  a  league 
immediately  upon  her  arrival  in  Tokyo,  and  did  so  in  1921. 

During  that  year  also  clinics  were  started  in  England.  That  of  Marie 
S  topes  proved  popular,  although  instruction,  given  by  a  midwife,  was 
limited  to  mothers  who  had  already  had  at  least  one  child.  Shortly 
afterwards  Dr.  Haire  and  Bessie  Drysdale,  with  Harold  Cox  as  chair- 
man of  a  lay  group  to  finance  the  work,  established  Walworth  Center, 
which  had  a  fine  gynecological  thoroughness  and  set  an  example  which 
later  clinics  in  England  followed. 

It  was  high  time  clinics  were  started  in  the  United  States  as  well. 
After  the  Crane  decision  I  had  anticipated  that  hospitals  were  going  to 
give  contraceptive  advice.  But  in  19 19,  under  Dr.  Mary  Halton's  di- 


IN   TIME   WE   ONLY   CAN   BEGIN  297 

rection,  two  women,  the  first  with  tuberculosis,  the  other  with  syphilis, 
had  been  taken  from  one  to  another  institution  on  Manhattan  Island. 
All  had  refused  such  information,  although  most  had  agreed  that  the 
patients,  if  pregnant,  could  be  aborted.  The  officers  in  charge  had  said 
they  were  obliged  to  protect  their  charters,  and  the  staff  physicians 
their  licenses  and  reputations. 

Anything  depending  on  the  organized  medicine  is  hard  to  put 
over;  though  individual  doctors  may  break  away,  in  the  long  run 
most  medical  progress  proceeds  by  group  action. 

Since  the  hospitals  were  laggard  in  this  matter,  I  decided  to  open  a 
second  clinic  of  my  own.  It  was  to  be  in  effect  a  laboratory  dealing  in 
human  beings  instead  of  mice,  with  every  consideration  for  environ- 
ment, personality,  and  background.  I  was  going  to  suggest  to  women 
that  in  the  Twentieth  Century  they  give  themselves  to  science  as 
they  had  in  the  past  given  their  lives  to  religion. 

In  addition  to  the  usual  rooms  I  planned  to  have  a  day  nursery  where 
children  could  be  kept  amused  and  happy  while  the  mothers  were  being 
instructed.  A  properly  chosen  staff  could  enable  us  to  have  weekly  ses- 
sions on  prenatal  care  and  marital  adjustment.  Gynecologists  were  to 
refer  patients  to  hospitals  if  pregnancy  jeopardized  life;  a  specialist 
was  to  advise  women  in  overcoming  sterility ;  a  consultant  was  to  deal 
with  eugenics ;  and,  finally,  since  anxiety  and  fear  of  pregnancy  were 
often  the  psychological  causes  of  ill  health,  a  psychiatrist  was  to  be 
added.  I  intended,  furthermore,  that  it  should  be  a  nucleus  for  research 
on  scientific  methods  of  contraception;  domestically  manufactured 
supplies  of  tested  efficacy  could  not,  at  that  time,  be  procured. 

Because  organized  medical  support  was  lacking,  I  tried  to  see  what 
could  be  done  with  individuals,  writing  to  various  doctors  to  inquire 
whether  they  were  willing  to  sponsor  such  an  undertaking.  Several 
asked  me  what  methods  I  was  recommending,  but  Dr.  Emmett 
Holt,  then  the  outstanding  pediatrician  of  New  York,  whose  book, 
The  Care  and  Feeding  of  Children,  was  the  bible  of  thousands  of 
mothers,  invited  me  to  come  to  his  office;  before  making  any  endorse- 
ment he  wanted  to  know  more  about  it. 

I  packed  up  all  my  European  supplies  and  showed  them  and  ex- 
plained them  to  Dr.  Holt,  who  had  called  in  also  an  obstetrician  and  a 
neurologist,  Dr.  Frederick  Peterson,  for  the  discussion.  The  usual 


298  MARGARET    SANGER 

attitude  of  the  child  specialist  was,  "Our  living  depends  upon  babies. 
Why  should  we  advocate  limiting  the  supply  ?  The  more  the  merrier. 
If  you  cut  down,  you're  taking  our  maintenance  from  us."  But  Dr. 
Holt  said,  "A  thoroughly  reliable  contraceptive  would  be  a  godsend 
to  us.  If  the  family  cannot  afford  a  nurse  we  must  rely  on  the  health 
and  strength  of  the  mother  to  keep  her  baby  alive.  If  pregnancy  can  be 
postponed  for  a  few  years,  not  only  the  baby  who  has  been  born,  but 
the  baby  who  comes  after  is  much  more  likely  to  survive." 

Dr.  Holt  lent  us  his  name,  one  of  the  first  important  physicians  to 
do  so,  thus  setting  an  example  which  eventually  others  followed.  Five 
or  six  men  and  women  doctors  agreed  to  stand  behind  the  clinic. 

But  I  had  to  have  more  than  verbal  approval.  Unless  the  clinic  were 
to  be  conducted  by  a  doctor  with  a  New  York  practicing  license,  it 
would  not  be  there  to  stay.  In  early  autumn  I  brought  together  an 
interested  group  to  discuss  the  possibility  of  a  location  on  the  East 
Side  near  Stuyvesant  Square,  and  Dr.  Lydia  Allen  de  Vilbiss,  whom 
I  had  met  at  the  Indianapolis  social  workers'  conference,  was  going  to 
form  her  own  medical  committee  behind  her  and  build  it  up.  On  the 
basis  of  her  promise,  I  signed  a  year's  lease  for  a  small  suite  of  rooms 
at  317  East  Tenth  Street,  from  which  a  dentist  had  just  moved  out,  ap- 
propriately situated  on  the  ground  floor  in  a  densely  populated  section. 

The  legislative  activities  and  planning  for  a  clinic  had  taken  much 
of  my  attention  during  the  year,  but  the  central  theme  was  the  de- 
termination to  hold  the  First  National  Birth  Control  Conference, 
November  n-13,  1921>  at  the  Plaza  Hotel  in  New  York.  I  timed 
it  purposely  to  coincide  with  a  meeting  of  the  American  Public  Health 
Association,  hoping  that  if  we  could  only  convince  these  officials  of 
the  need  for  birth  control,  they  would  use  it  in  their  own  work. 

In  addition  to  the  health  aspect,  we  planned  to  treat  of  population 
and  also  have  a  doctors'  meeting  on  methods  and  technique.  But 
"flaming  youth"  was  having  its  fling,  and  the  great  clamor  of  the 
moment  was  directed  towards  the  moral  issue.  Opponents  were  con- 
stantly hurling  the  statement  that  immorality  among  young  people 
was  to  be  the  inevitable  fruit  of  our  efforts.  This  I  did  not  believe.  I 
knew  that  neither  morality  nor  immorality  was  an  external  factor  in 
human  behavior;  essentially  these  qualities  grew  and  emerged  from 
within.  If  the  youth  of  the  post- War  era  were  slipping  away  from 


IN   TIME   WE   ONLY   CAN   BEGIN  299 

sanctioned  codes,  it  was  not  the  fault  of  birth  control  knowledge 
any  more  than  it  was  the  fault  of  the  automobile,  which  made 
transportation  to  the  bright  lights  of  the  city  quick  and  easy.  Im- 
morality as  a  result  should  not  be  placed  at  the  door  of  Messrs.  Ford 
or  Chrysler. 

In  order  to  have  a  free  and  fair  hearing  we  proposed  a  large  open 
meeting  to  wind  up  the  Conference,  and  invited  ministry  and  clergy 
of  all  denominations,  including  Archbishop  Patrick  J.  Hayes,  who 
was  the  spokesman  of  the  Catholic  Church  in  New  York. 

The  movement  was  older  in  England  and  had  already  established 
its  dignity  there.  Consequently,  the  presence  at  the  Conference  of 
such  an  outstanding  Englishman  as  Harold  Cox  was  certain  to  carry 
weight.  To  persuade  him  to  take  the  sea  voyage  I  sailed  for  Europe. 
When  I  arrived  in  London  I  found  him  unwell,  and  his  doctors  at 
first  refused  him  permission  to  travel.  Under  the  circumstances  it 
was  very  fine  of  him  to  promise  to  come.  J.  O.  P.  Bland  also  said  he 
would  look  in  on  the  Conference  if  only  to  give  it  his  blessing.  He  was 
a  dark-haired,  witty,  amusing  North-of-Irishman  who  had  lived  much 
in  the  Orient  and  become  an  authority  on  Far  Eastern  matters,  an 
internationalist  in  all  his  thinking.  He  was  one  of  those  who  always 
helped- to  hold  up  your  right  hand. 

My  object  in  England  having  been  attained,  I  went  on  to  Switzer- 
land with  a  definite  aim ;  I  had  formed  a  habit  in  my  nursing  days, 
when  I  was  waiting  in  the  night  to  give  medicine  or  treatment  to  a 
patient,  of  occupying  the  time  putting  down  experiences  and  thoughts 
that  came  to  me.  The  same  habit  continued.  After  lectures,  while  I  was 
still  sizzling  with  excitement,  I  often  relieved  the  tenseness  by  writing 
down  answers  to  questions  I  feared  I  had  not  covered  adequately.  Be- 
fore I  knew  it  I  had  material  gathered  for  a  book,  and  even  some  chap- 
ters in  rough  draft.  They  needed  pulling  together  and  polishing  off 
and  I  went  to  bed  in  Montreux  for  a  month  to  do  this.  I  had  regarded 
Woman  and  the  New  Race  as  my  heart  book ;  this,  The  Pivot  of  Civi- 
lization, was  to  be  my  head  book.  I  brought  it  back  with  me  to  the 
United  States  and  Wells,  who  was  reporting  the  Washington  Disarm- 
ament Conference  for  the  New  York  World,  wrote  an  introduction. 

To  make  our  Conference  a  success  it  had  to  be  under  the  auspices 
of  an  organization.  I  had  always  had  a  dread  of  them.  I  knew  their 


300  MARGARET    SANGER 

weaknesses  and  the  stifling  effect  they  could 'have.  They  seemed  heavy 
and  ponderous,  rigid,  lifeless,  and  soulless,  often  caught  in  their  own 
mechanism  to  become  dead  wood,  thus  defeating  the  very  purposes 
for  which  they  had  initially  been  established.  Even  the  women  who 
were  able  and  clever  at  systematizing  such  bodies  terrified  me  with 
their  rule-and-rote  minds,  their  weight-and-measure  tactics ;  they  ap- 
peared so  sure,  so  positive  that  I  felt  as  if  I  were  in  the  way  of  a  giant 
tractor  which  destroyed  mercilessly  as  it  went. 

In  spite  of  this  dread  I  had  reasoned  out  the  necessity  for  an  organi- 
zation to  tie  up  the  loose  ends.  Although  it  might  be  limiting  and  in- 
hibiting to  the  individual,  it  had  other  advantages  of  strength  and 
solidity  which  would  enable  it  to  function  when  the  individual  was 
gone.  Therefore  I  sent  a  questionnaire  to  leaders  in  social  and  pro- 
fessional circles,  asking  them  whether  the  time  had  not  come  for  such 
a  national  association ;  the  replies  almost  unanimously  confirmed  this 
decision. 

The  evening  before  the  Conference  was  to  open,  a  few  friends 
gathered  together  to  launch  the  American  Birth  Control  League.  Its 
aims  were  to  build  up  public  opinion  so  that  women  should  demand 
instruction  from  doctors,  to  assemble  the  findings  of  scientists,  to 
remove  hampering  Federal  statutes,  to  send  out  field  workers  into 
those  states  where  laws  did  not  prevent  clinics,  to  co-operate  with 
similar  bodies  in  studying  population  problems,  food  supplies,  world 
peace.  After  the  dinner,  given  at  Mrs.  George  F.  Rublee's  home, 
we  talked  over  specific  plans  for  the  year  and  set  in  motion  the 
machinery  for  having  the  League  incorporated. 

Juliet  Barrett  Rublee  had  been  one  of  the  pioneers,  a  member  of  the 
original  Committee  of  One  Hundred,  and  all  the  way  through  the 
years  she  has  never  wavered  from  my  side.  No  more  inspired  idealist 
was  ever  initiated  into  a  movement.  The  imagination  of  this  pictur- 
esque, romantic  wife  of  a  conservative  lawyer  had  been  so  fired  that 
she  dedicated  to  it  her  entire  devotion,  loyalty,  partisanship.  Others  had 
rallied  their  own  personal  friends  around  the  idea,  but  Juliet's  influence 
brought  in  her  husband's  associates — the  Cravaths,  Morrows,  La- 
monts,  Dodges,  and  Blisses. 

Juliet's  parties  were  always  gay  and  interesting,  with  an  atmosphere 
nobody  else  could  create.  Her  small,  engaging  dining  room  was  as 


IN    TIME    WE   ONLY    CAN    BEGIN  3OI 

colorful  as  she  herself — the  only  woman  I  ever  knew  who  dared  to 
wear  bright  greens,  reds,  yellows,  all  together.  For  lunches,  teas,  and 
dinners  in  behalf  of  the  cause  she  practically  turned  over  her  home  in 
Turtle  Bay  Gardens. 

A  goodly  number  attended  the  opening  of  our  Conference,  which, 
appropriately,  coincided  with  that  of  the  great  disarmament  confer- 
ence at  Washington.  The  medical  meeting,  where  contraceptive  tech- 
nique was  discussed,  was  so  crowded  that  latecomers  could  not  squeeze 
in.  The  doctors  who  did  find  places,  each  apparently  surprised  to  see 
his  confreres  there,  expected  us  to  have  a  hundred  percent  sound 
methods ;  they  seemed  disappointed  because  we  had  no  magic  up  our 
sleeves  and  told  them  quite  frankly  we  had  not.  The  best  we  could  do 
was  show  what  devices  were  being  employed,  including  those  from  the 
Netherlands  and.  the  preparation  I  had  found  at  Friedrichshaven, 
with  the  warning  that  they  had  not  been  tested  for  efficacy. 

After  two  full  days  nothing  remained  but  the  Sunday  evening  mass 
meeting  on  "Birth  Control,  Is  It  Moral?"  For  this  we  had  selected 
the  Town  Hall  pn  West  Forty-third  Street,  a  new  club  designed  as  a 
forum  for  adult  education;  the  auditorium  was  often  used  for  discus- 
sion of  questions  of  civic  interest.  Harold  Cox  was  to  deliver  the  first 
speech  and  I  was  to  follow. 

Always,  when  I  am  to  speak,  I  attempt  to  visualize  the  hall  and  the 
audience  in  order  to  feel  my  way  into  the  subject.  When  I  cannot  do 
so,  I  have  invariably  been  met  by  blocked  doors.  Throughout  Sunday, 
try  as  I  would  to  "tune  in"  to  the  approaching  event,  I  could  not  do  it. 
I  kept  remembering  a  dream  I  had  had  the  night  before  in  which  I  was 
carrying  a  small  baby  in  my  arms  up  a  very  steep  hill  and  came  rather 
abruptly  to  a  slope  which  became  a  mountain  side  of  rock  and  slippery 
shale ;  I  had  nothing  to  grasp  to  prevent  me  from  sliding.  The  baby 
cried  continually  and  I  wanted  to  comfort  it,  but  I  dared  not  use  my 
right  hand  because  it  was  held  up  like  a  balancing  rod  which  saved  us 
both  from  falling.  That  miserable  dream  made  me  drowsy  all  day.  My 
brain  seemed  numb.  I  simply  could  not  think  of  what  I  was  going  to 
say. 

Anne  Kennedy  had  gone  ahead  to  the  Town  Hall  at  about  seven 
o'clock.  Harold  Cox  and  I  had  dined  at  Juliet's  but  I  could  not  eat ;  I 
was  interested  neither  in  the  food  nor  the  conversation.  I  still  had  an 


302  MARGARET   SANGER 

absolute  blank  in  front  of  me.  Juliet  was  congratulating  me  that  soon, 
with  the  Conference  over,  I  could  have  a  rest.  Ordinarily  when  I  am 
approaching  the  end  of  a  particular  job  I  begin  to  feel  released,  but  this 
time  I  could  not  reassure  her ;  I  was  nervous,  anxious,  and  apprehen- 
sive. 

Our  taxi  swung  into  West  Forty-third  Street  and  crept  cautiously 
along  through  a  swarming  aggregation.  "Heavens !"  I  said.  "This  is 
an  overflow  with  a  vengeance." 

We  dismounted  and  pushed  our  way  to  the  Town  Hall  doors.  They 
were  closed  and  two  policemen  barred  our  path  when  Mr.  Cox  and  I 
attempted  to  enter.  "This  gentleman  is  one  of  the  speakers  and  I  am 
another,"  I  said.  "Why  can't  we  go  in?" 

"There  ain't  gonna  be  no  meeting.  That's  all  I  can  say." 

I  had  not  the  faintest  idea  of  what  was  happening.  A  newspaper 
man  standing  near  by  suggested,  "Why  not  call  up  Police  Commis- 
sioner Enright  and  see  what  the  trouble  is  ?" 

Juliet  and  I  rushed  across  the  street  to  a  booth  and  she  telephoned 
police  headquarters.  No  one  could  say  where  the  Commissioner  was. 
As  far  as  they  knew  no  orders  to  forbid  the  meeting  had  been  issued. 

Then  I  put  through  a  call  for  Mayor  Hylan.  While  I  was  waiting 
for  the  connection  I  kept  my  eyes  on  the  Town  Hall  entrance  and  saw 
that  policemen  were  cautiously  opening  the  doors  to  let  out  driblets  of 
people.  If  they  could  get  out  I  could  get  in,  so  I  abandoned  the  tele- 
phone and  wove  my  way  through  the  throng  until  I  reached  the  doors, 
slipping  in  under  the  policemen's  arms  before  they  could  stop  me. 
Dignified  health  officers  from  all  over  the  country,  lawyers  and  judges 
with  their  families  and  guests  were  standing  about,  grumbling,  vague, 
reluctant  to  depart,  wondering  what  to  do. 

I  fairly  flew  up  the  aisle  but  halted  in  front  of  the  footlights ;  they 
were  as  high  as  my  head  and  another  blue  uniform  was  obstructing  the 
steps  leading  to  the  stage.  Suddenly  Lothrop  Stoddard,  the  author,  tall 
and  strong,  seized  me  and  literally  tossed  me  up  to  the  platform.  A 
messenger  boy  was  aimlessly  grasping  flowers  which  were  to  be  pre- 
sented after  my  speech.  Stoddard  grabbed  them  briskly,  handed  them 
to  me,  and  shouted,  "Here's  Mrs.  Sanger !" 

"Don't  leave !"  I  called  to  the  audience.  "We're  going  to  hold  the 
meeting." 


IN   TIME   WE   ONLY   CAN   BEGIN  303 

A  great  scramble  began  to  get  back  into  the  seats.  The  hall  was  in  a 
turmoil ;  the  front  doors  had  been  stampeded  and  those  in  the  street 
were  pressing  in,  only  to  find  their  places  gone.  The  boxes  and  galleries 
were  soon  filled,  the  stage  was  jammed,  hundreds  were  crowded  in  the 
rear.  I  cried,  "Get  in  out  of  the  aisles !"  I  knew  the  meeting  could  be 
legally  closed  if  they  were  blocked,  and  I  did  not  want  fire  regulations 
to  be  used  as  a  pretext. 

I  still  had  no  idea  of  what  had  gone  on  earlier  when  I  commenced 
my  lecture,  but  had  uttered  no  more  than  ten  or  twelve  words  when  two 
policemen  loomed  up  beside  me  and  said,  "You  can't  talk  here."  A 
thundering  applause  broke  out  as  though  it  were  the  only  relief  for 
angry,  indignant,  rebellious  spirits. 

"Why  can't  I  ?" 

I  started  again  but  my  voice  could  not  be  heard.  I  then  suggested  to 
Harold  Cox,  "Perhaps  they'll  let  you  speak.  Try  it."  This  white-haired 
and  pink-cheeked  gentleman  walked  to  the  edge  of  the  platform  with 
a  dignity  of  bearing  about  as  distantly  removed  from  immorality  as 
could  be  imagined.  "Ladies  and  gentlemen,"  he  began,  "I  have  come 
from  across  the  Atlantic — "  but  that  was  as  far  as  he  got  before  he 
was  led  back  to  his  seat  by  a  policeman. 

Then  Mary  Winsor,  an  ardent  suffragette,  sprang  up,  but  they 
stopped  her  also.^  As  soon  as  one  was  downed,  another  jumped  to  his 
or  her  feet.  I  did  not  know  the  names  of  some  of  the  volunteers,  who 
were  not  even  allowed  to  finish  their  "Ladies  and  gentlemen." 

Meanwhile,  Anne  Kennedy  was  telling  me  as  best  she  could  what 
had  happened  prior  to  my  arrival.  When  the  house  had  been  half  filled, 
a  man  had  come  to  the  platform  and  asked,  "Who's  in  charge?" 

"I  am,"  Anne  had  answered. 

"This  meeting  must  be  closed." 

"Why?" 

"An  indecent,  immoral  subject  is  to  be  discussed.  It  cannot  be  held." 

"On  what  authority  ?  Are  you  from  the  police  ?" 

"No,  I'm  Monsignor  Dineen,  the  Secretary  of  Archbishop  Hayes." 

"What  right  has  he  to  interfere  ?" 

"He  has  the  right."  Here  he  turned  to  a  policeman.  "Captain, 
speak  up." 

"Who  are  you  ?"  Anne  had  demanded. 


304  MARGARET   SANGER 

"I'm  Captain  Donohue  of  this  district.  The  meeting  must  be 
stopped." 

Capable  and  cool-headed  Anne  had  replied,  "Very  well,  we'll  write 
this  down  and  I'll  read  it  to  the  audience.  T,  Captain  Thomas  Donohue, 
of  the  Twenty-sixth  Precinct,  at  the  order  of  Monsignor  Joseph  P. 
Dineen,  Secretary  to  Archbishop  Patrick  J.  Hayes,  have  ordered  this 
meeting  closed.'  " 

The  listeners  had  sat  petrified  while  she  had  read  them  this  strange 
admission.  No  hissing  or  booing  then.  They  had  just  sat.  It  was  one 
thing  to  have  the  hall  shut  by  a  mistaken  or  misguided  police  captain ; 
a  very  different  thing  to  have  it  done  by  a  high  dignitary  of  the  Roman 
Catholic  hierarchy. 

Monsignor  Dineen  was  now  stationed  in  the  back  of  the  hall,  and 
Anne  pointed  him  out  to  me,  of  medium  size,  in  plain  attire,  calmly 
directing  the  police  by  a  casual  nod  of  the  head  or  a  whisper  to  a  man 
who  acted  as  runner  between  him  and  the  Captain  on  the  platform. 

Confusion  and  tumult  continued  for  at  least  an  hour.  Newspaper 
men  were  scribbling  stories ;  those  who  could  not  get  in  were  creating 
commotion  outside ;  the  reserves  had  been  summoned.  It  was  bedlam. 
Miss  Winsor  tried  to  speak  two  or  three  times ;  I,  at  least  ten.  But  I 
knew  that  I  had  to  keep  on  until  I  was  arrested  in  order  that  free  speech 
might  be  made  the  issue.  To  allow  yourself  to  be  sent  home  at  the 
order  of  the  police  was  accepting  the  police  point  of  view  as  to  what 
was  moral.  Moreover  you  were  bound  for  the  principle  of  the  thing 
to  carry  it  into  the  court  for  a  legal  decision;  if  the  pulpit  and  press 
were  denied  you,  you  must  take  it  to  the  dock. 

Captain  Donohue  kept  repeating  to  me,  "Please  get  off  this  stage 
before  you  cause  disorder."  Police  now  began  to  hustle  the  audience 
towards  half  a  dozen  exits,  and  finally  Miss  Winsor  and  I  were  put 
under  arrest ;  Robert  McC.  Marsh,  Mrs.  Delafield's  son-in-law,  offered 
to  act  as  our  counsel. 

Juliet  said  to  an  officer,  "Why  don't  you  arrest  me  too?" 

"Well,  you  can  come  along  if  you  like,"  he  agreed.  So  we  walked 
together  up  Broadway  to  the  station  at  West  Forty-seventh  Street, 
policemen  flanking  us.  The  crowd,  still  jeering  the  reserves,  who  had 
been  trying  vainly  to  clear  the  way,  fell  in  line  and  marched  behind  us. 
A  patrol  wagon  then  took  us  to  night  court  where  we  were  arraigned 


IN    TIME    WE    ONLY    CAN    BEGIN  305 

before  Magistrate  McQuade.  Someone  had  telephoned  J.J.  and  he 
came  up  later,  but  Mr.  Marsh  had  already  taken  care  of  the  necessary 
formalities.  We  were  released  on  our  own  recognizances,  to  appear  at 
court  the  following  morning. 

It  was  now  some  time  after  midnight,  but  we  all  went  back  to  Juliet's 
apartment.  Harold  Cox  was  shocked,  not  only  by  the  roughness  of  the 
police,  but  also  by  the  supineness  of  the  audience,  which  had  done 
nothing  but  make  a  noise.  "Had  this  been  in  London,  they  would  never 
have  been  able  to  stop  the  meeting !  We  would  have  defended  our 
rights,  used  every  chair  and  door  and  window  to  barricade  the  place, 
even  though  we  might  have  been  beaten  in  the  end." 

Anne  Kennedy  had  brought  the  reporters,  and  they  were  waiting 
for  us.  They  wanted  to  make  out  a  story  of  police  stupidity  and  let  it 
go  at  that,  unable  to  believe  her  when  she  told  them  it  was  the  Arch- 
bishop who  was  responsible.  A  Times  reporter  called  up  the  "Power 
House,"  as  St.  Patrick's  Cathedral  was  colloquially  termed,  reached 
Dineen  himself , "and  asked  for  verification.  "Yes,"  said  the  Monsignor, 
"we  closed  the  meeting." 

Then  and  there  we  decided  to  hold  a  second  one  as  soon  as  possible 
at  the  same  place. 

It  was  well  on  towards  five  o'clock  when  at  last  I  fell  in  my  bed.  1 
sank  to  slumber,  but  it  was  only  to  find  myself  still  carrying  that 
same  baby  up  the  steep  and  sliding  mountain,  balancing  myself  with 
upraised  hand.  The  sky  was  dark,  the  way  unmarked.  Wearily  I 
stumbled  on. 


Chapter  Twenty-four 


LAWS  WERE  LIKE  COBWEBS 


"And  heard  great  argument, 
About  it  and  about;  but  evermore 
Came  out  by  the  same  door  wherein  I  went.' 

EDWARD   FITZGERALD 


.  fff-  t£tm  fftm  fff.  tff*  tft*  fff. 

\W  xVV  VW  \SV.*  VW  \W  TfcV* 

PROMPTLY  at  nine  the  morning  after  the  wretched  Town  Hall 
affair  Miss  Winsor  and  I  appeared  before  Magistrate  Joseph  E. 
Corrigan  and  the  case  was  dismissed  in  five  minutes.  Neither  Mon- 
signor  Dineen  nor  Captain  Donohue  was  in  court.  Here  was  a  ridicu- 
lous thing — the  Catholic  Church  held  such  power  in  its  hands  that  it 
could  issue  orders  to  the  police,  dissolve  an  important  gathering  of 
adult  and  intelligent  men  and  women,  and  send  them  home  as  though 
they  were  naughty  children — and  then  not  feel  called  upon  to  give  any 
accounting. 

The  papers  expressed  the  greatest  indignation.  Even  the  most  con- 
servative were  placed  in  the  trying  situation  of  defending  birth  control 
advocates  or  endorsing  a  violation  of  the  principle  of  free  speech, 
which  "must  always  find  defenders  if  democracy  is  to  survive."  It  was 
to  be  expected  that  the  World  would  be  up  in  arms,  but  the  Times 
carried  a  headline  that  Archbishop  Hayes  had  closed  the  meeting,  and 
the  Tribune  was  spurred  on  by  the  indignation  of  Mrs.  Ogden  Reid, 
who  had  been  present  at  the  Town  Hall. 

Apparently  the  Church  had  not  expected  to  render  any  explanation 
whatsoever.  Then,  faced  with  a  battery  of  reporters,  Monsignor 
Dineen  made  a  statement : 

The  Archbishop  had  received  an  invitation  from  Mrs.  Margaret 
Sanger  to  attend  the  meeting,  and  I  went  as  his  representative.  The 
Archbishop  is  delighted  and  pleased  at  the  action  of  the  police,  as  am 

306 


LAWS    WERE   LIKE    COBWEBS  ^°7 

I,  because  ...  I  think  any  one  will  admit  that  a  meeting  of  that  char- 
acter is  no  place  for  growing  children.  .  .  .  The  presence  of  these 
four  children  at  least  was  a  reason  for  police  action. 

He  had  not  improved  his  position.  The  scoffing  was  redoubled  when 
it  was  learned  that  the  four  "children"  were  students  of  Professor 
Raymond  Moley's  class  in  sociology  at  Columbia  University;  Mon- 
signor  Dineen  had  not  seen  beyond  their  bobbed  hair. 

Only  a  small  section  of  the  public  had  been  aware  of  our  modest  little 
conference;  even  fewer  had  known  of  the  proposed  Town  Hall  meet- 
ing. Now  the  publicity  was  tremendous.  Many  Catholics  themselves 
condemned  Church  tactics,  and  Archbishop  Hayes  had  to  defend  him- 
self : 

As  a  citizen  and  a  churchman,  deeply  concerned  with  the  moral 
well-being  of  our -city,  I  feel  it  a  public  duty  to  protest  ...  in  the 
interest  of  thousands  of  .  .  .  distressed  mothers,  who  are  alarmed 
at  the  daring  of  the  advocates  of  birth  control  in  bringing  out  into  an 
open,  unrestricted,  free  meeting  a  discussion  of  a  subject  that  simple 
prudence  and  decency,  if  not  the  spirit  of  the  law,  should  keep  within 
the  walls  of  a  clinic.  .  .  .  The  law  was  enacted  under  the  police 
power  of  the  Legislature  for  the  benefit  of  the  morals  and  health  of 
the  community.  .  .  .  The  law  of  God  and  man,  science,  public  policy, 
human  experience,  are  all  condemnatory  of  birth  control  as  preached 
by  a  few  irresponsible  individuals. 

The  seventh  child  has  been  regarded  traditionally  with  some  peoples 
as  the  most  favored  by  nature.  Benjamin  Franklin  was  the  fifteenth 
child,  John  Wesley  the  eighteenth,  Ignatius  Loyola  was  the  eighth, 
Catherine  of  Siena,  one  of  the  greatest  intellectual  women  who  ever 
lived,  was  the  twenty-fourth.  It  has  been  suggested  that  one  of  the 
reasons  for  the  lack  of  genius  in  our  day  is  that  we  are  not  getting  the 
ends  of  the  families. 

This  statement  appeared  synchronously  with  our  second  meeting. 
The  Town  Hall  had  been  booked  ahead  for  several  weeks;  conse- 
quently, we  had  engaged  the  big  Park  Theater  in  Columbus  Circle. 
It  was  packed  fifteen  minutes  after  a  single  door  was  opened.  Dr.  Karl 
Reiland  of  St.  George's  Church  was  a  new  recruit  on  the  platform ; 
otherwise  our  program  was  the  same  as  before,  and  a  balanced  and 
poised  discussion  proceeded  without  acrimony  or  excitement.  Outside, 
however,  two  thousand  people  were  clamoring  to  get  in,  even  climbing 


308  MARGARET   SANGER 

up  the  fire  escapes.  Orators  were  haranguing  from  soapboxes,  men 
were  pounding  each  other  with  their  fists,  Paulist  fathers  were  selling 
pamphlets  against  birth  control. 

In  my  open  letter  of  reply  to  Archbishop  Hayes  I  said : 

I  agree  with  the  Archbishop  that  a  clinic  is  the  proper  place  to  give 
information  on  birth  control.  ...  I  wish,  however,  to  point  out  the 
fact  that  there  are  two  sides  to  the  subject  under  consideration — the 
practical  information  as  distinct  from  the  theoretical  discussion.  The 
latter  rightly  may  be  discussed  on  the  public  platform  and  in  the  press 
as  the  Archbishop  himself  has  taken  the  opportunity  to  do. 

And  then,  citing  Scripture  : 

If  the  Archbishop  will  recall  his  Bible  history,  he  will  find  that 
some  of  the  more  remarkable  characters  were  the  first  children,  and 
often  the  only  child  as  well.  For  instance,  Isaac  was  an  only  child, 
born  after  long  years  of  preparation.  Isaac's  only  children  were  twins 
— Jacob,  the  father  of  all  Israel,  and  Esau.  Samuel,  who  judged 
Israel  for  forty  years,  was  an  only  child.  John  the  Baptist  was  an  only 
child,  and  his  parents  were  well  along  in  years  when  he  was  born. 

Archbishop  Hayes  delivered  his  final  pronunciamento  in  his  Christ- 
mas Pastoral : 

Children  troop  down  from  Heaven  because  God  wills  it.  He  alone 
has  the  right  to  stay  their  coming,  while  He  blesses  at  will  some  homes 
with  many,  others  with  but  few  or  with  none  at  all.  .  .  .  Even  though 
some  little  angels  in  the  flesh  through  moral,  mental,  or  physical  de- 
formity of  parents  may  appear  to  human  eyes  hideous,  misshapen, 
a  blot  on  civilized  society,  we  must  not  lose  sight  of  this  Christian 
thought  that  under  and  within  such  visible  malformation  there  lives 
an  immortal  soul  to  be  saved  and  glorified  for  all  eternity  among  the 
blessed  in  Heaven. 

Heinous  is  the  sin  committed  against  the  creative  act  of  God,  who 
through  the  marriage  contract  invites  man  and  woman  to  co-operate 
with  him  in  the  propagation  of  the  human  family.  To  take  life  after 
its  inception  is  a  horrible  crime ;  but  to  prevent  human  life  that  the 
Creator  is  about  to  bring  into  being  is  satanic.  In  the  first  instance, 
the  body  is  killed,  while  the  soul  lives  on ;  in  the  latter,  not  only  a  body, 
but  an  immortal  soul  is  denied  existence  in  time  and  in  eternity.  It 
has  been  reserved  to  our  day  to  see  advocated  shamelessly  the  legaliz- 
ing of  such  a  diabolical  thing. 


,    LAWS    WERE   LIKE    COBWEBS  309 

A  monstrous  doctrine  and  one  abhorrent  to  every  civilized  instinct, 
that  children,  misshapen,  deformed,  hideous  to  the  eye,  either  mentally 
or  constitutionally  unequipped  for  life,  should  continue  to  be  born  in 
the  hope  that  Heaven  might  be  filled ! 

General  opinion  was  that  controversy  gave  us  free  publicity,  and 
it  did,  column  after  column,  but  to  my  mind  it  was  of  the  negative 
kind.  The  truths  falsified  and  motives  aspersed  had  to  be  debated,  cor- 
rected, and  argued  away,  and  this  took  time  from  constructive  work. 
The  press  wanted  to  keep  up  the  excitement  and  manufacture  news,  but 
I  did  not.  As  a  matter  of  fact  the  hullabaloo  was  usually  done  for  me ; 
the  blundering  of  the  opposition  often  saved  my  voice. 

The  correspondence  through  the  press  was  dropped,  but  meanwhile 
the  American  Civil  Liberties  Union,  spurred  on  by  Albert  de  Silver, 
from  whom  we  had  previously  sought  advice  and  who  had  helped  us 
raise  funds,  had  urged  me  to  institute  action  for  false  arrest.  This  I 
knew  would  be  a  fruitless  task,  but  I  did  consent  to  the  demand  for  an 
investigation.  Commissioner  Enright  was  said  to  be  out  of  the  city, 
but  Chief  Inspector  Lahey,  acting  in  his  place,  was  to  determine 
whether  charges  should  be  preferred  against  Captain  Donohue  for 
having  stopped  the  meeting. 

On  December  2nd,  in  a  small  room  closed  to  the  press,  Mr.  Lahey  sat 
at  the  head  of  a  long  table.  On  his  right  was  a  chair  to  which  I  was 
called.  On  his  left,  opposite  me,  was  a  heavy  man  with  a  big  bulldog 
head,  wearing  a  black  alpaca  coat.  He  fixed  his  eyes  straight  on  mine 
as  though  he  intended  to  hypnotize  me  and  influence  by  sheer  terror 
what  I  was  to  say.  His  features  were  so  set,  his  expression  so  immobile, 
that  I  sensed  animus.  I  refused  to  return  his  gaze  but  faced  the  In- 
spector instead. 

The  interrogation,  prompted  by  this  sinister  individual,  who  bent 
over  occasionally  to  murmur  into  Mr.  Lahey's  ear,  held  bitter  malice. 
Nevertheless,  I  answered  every  query  as  completely  and  as  honestly  as 
I  was  able.  I  had  nothing  to  hide,  and  still  believed  that  my  interlocutor 
could  arrive  at  no  decision  unless  he  heard  the  truth  in  its  entirety.  I 
was  all  for  telling  it.  ^ 

But  never  throughout  any  of  the  hearings  could  either  the  examiners 
or  police  be  kept  to  the  point.  They  were  not  genuinely  trying  to  find 
out  who  had  given  the  orders  and  why,  but  attempting  to  justify  the 


310  MARGARET    SANGER 

illegal  proceedings ;  and  always  they  went  off  into  vague  irrelevancies 
extraneous  to  the  issue,  such  as  trying  to  embarrass  dignified,  elderly 
witnesses  by  asking,  "What  are  you  doing  with  birth  control?" 

Chiefly  the  investigation  focused  around  the  Brownsville  clinic  raid. 
I  denied  emphatically  that  certain  contraceptives  for  use  by  men  only 
had  ever  been  there ;  they  were  of  a  type  which  I  did  not  recommend, 
and  had  been  brought  in  by  the  police  themselves. 

"Do  you  mean  to  say,  Mrs.  Sanger,"  went  on  Mr.  Lahey,  "that 
this  statement  of  the  police  officer  as  written  into  the  records  was 
untrue?" 

"I  do." 

Mr.  Lahey  lifted  an  official  finger  to  an  attendant.  The  door  of  the 
anteroom  opened  and  Mrs.  Whitehurst,  who  had  been  the  leader  of 
the  raid,  was  dramatically  framed  before  us. 

"Do  you  say  that  if  she,"  he  waved  to  her,  "made  the  statement  re- 
ferred to  in  the  police  records,  she  lied  ?" 

"She  did,"  I  affirmed.  This  was  the  first  time  in  all  my  life  that  I 
had  ever  called  a  person  a  liar.  I  felt  as  though  I  had  stepped  down  into 
the  lower  brackets  of  common  decency,  but  the  police  are  accustomed 
to  such  words,  and  I  had  to  meet  the  circumstances. 

Mrs.  Whitehurst  was  instantly  dismissed.  I,  too,  was  dismissed,  and 
Juliet  took  my  place.  She  had  learned  from  her  husband  and  other 
lawyers  how  witnesses  could  protect  themselves,  and  tossed  off  her 
answers  readily,  now  and  then  returning,  "I  don't  know,"  and,  fre- 
quently, "I  don't  remember."  The  black-coated  gentleman  who  had 
hoped  to  trip  her  up  but  was  getting  nowhere,  became  exasperated  and 
said  roughly  to  Mr.  Lahey,  "Oh,  stop  this !  Ask  her  if  she's  read  the 
law." 

Juliet  admitted  she  had  read  Section  1 142,  but,  to  further  question- 
ing, replied  she  did  not  recall  when,  she  had  not  read  it  in  my  presence, 
she  might  or  might  not  have  talked  it  over  with  me. 

Mr.  Lahey  rose  and  left  the  room.  Then  the  Unknown  shouted  to 
a  young  Irishman  who  had  been  busily  taking  notes,  "Arrest  that 
woman !" 

We  could  not  have  been  more  astonished  if  a  thunderbolt  had  struck 
the  place.  For  a  few  seconds,  which  seemed  longer,  everyone  was 


LAWS    WERE   LIKE    COBWEBS  3II 

paralyzed.  At  last  Mr.  Marsh  asked,  "On  what  grounds  is  Mrs.  Rublee 
arrested  ?" 

"She  has  violated  Sectiqn  1 142." 

"She  said  she  had  read  the  law — is  that  a  crime  ?" 

No  answer. 

Mr.  Marsh  then  inquired,  "On  whose  authority  is  Mrs.  Rublee  ar- 
rested?" 

Dead  silence.  No  reply  while  the  Unknown  and  the  stenographer 
muttered  together.  Finally,  when  Mr.  Marsh  repeated  the  question,  the 
latter  replied,  "I  do.  I  arrest  her  on  my  own  authority.  Patrolman 
Thomas  J.  Murphy." 

Mr.  Marsh  said  to  the  Unknown,  "It's  customary  for  brothers  of 
the  law  to  give  each  other  their  names.  Mine  is  Robert  Marsh,  practic- 
ing attorney.  May  I  not  know  with  whom  I  am  speaking  ?" 

"I'm  just  a  bystander." 

"Well,  Mr.  Bystander,  won't  you  instruct  the  police  officer  to  be 
more  explicit  in  his  statement  of  facts  ?" 

"Look  here,  Marsh,  I'm  telling  you  the  officer  is  arresting  this  wit- 
ness on  his  own  initiative." 

He,  too,  left  the  room. 

Juliet,  Mr.  Marsh,  and  I  entered  her  car  and  young  Stenographer- 
Patrolman  Murphy,  obviously  ill  at  ease,  sat  beside  the  chauffeur.  At 
the  Elizabeth  Street  Court,  Magistrate  Peter  A.  Hatting  smiled  cheer- 
fully at  us  from  behind  his  desk,  "Well,  where's  the  prisoner  ?" 

Murphy  made  a  feeble  gesture  in  Juliet's  direction  and  said  in  a 
whisper  which  we  could  overhear,  "It's  a  birth  control  case." 

"Oh,  I  see.  Well,  what  was  she  selling — where  are  the  articles  ?" 

Murphy  could  produce  none. 

"Well,  well,  where  is  the  evidence  ?" 

Murphy  looked  even  more  embarrassed,  mumbled  that  he  didn't 
have  any. 

"Well,  the  court  is  adjourned  anyway,  and  we'll  have  to  wait  until 
this  afternoon." 

I  was  turning  my  back  on  Murphy,  very  cross  at  him,  but  Juliet 
asked  him  to  lunch  with  us.  "He  didn't  want  to  arrest  me,  did  you, 
Mr.  Murphy  ?"  And  Mr.  Murphy  shook  his  head  most  decidedly. 


312  MARGARET    SANGER 

While  we  ate,  he  explained  that  our  Unknown  was  Assistant  Cor- 
poration Counsel  Martin  W.  Dolphin,  with  offices  in  the  Police  De- 
partment, that  he  himself  was  Mr.  Dolphin's  private  secretary,  that  he 
had  been  brought  to  the  inquiry  merely  to  take  dictation,  that  he  had 
been  only  ten  months  on  the  force,  that  he  had  never  arrested  anybody 
before,  and  that  when  Mr.  Dolphin  had  said  to  arrest  Mrs.  Rublee  he 
had  protested,  "Why,  I  can't  arrest  her.  I  haven't  seen  her  do  anything 
to  be  arrested  for !" 

"I'm  awfully  sorry,"  he  went  on,  addressing  Juliet,  "but  I  had  to 
obey  orders.  If  I  didn't,  I'd  be  in  an  awful  mess.  Gee,  why  didn't  they 
get  some  of  the  old  fellows  down  there  to  do  it  ?" 

When  we  returned  to  court,  Assistant  District  Attorney  Wilson 
said  to  Magistrate  Hatting,  "Your  Honor,  I  have  no  evidence  in  this 
case.  The  police  have  furnished  nothing  to  the  District  Attorney's 
office.  If  I  have  not  sufficient  evidence  by  three-thirty  I'll  dismiss  the 
whole  thing." 

Then  we  waited.  Eventually  the  expected  "minutes  and  statement" 
arrived.  Murphy  swore  that  they  were  true — to  Juliet's  wholehearted 
disgust.  Her  faith  in  human  nature  had  been  betrayed ;  she  did  not 
see  why  he  preferred  to  keep  his  job  rather  than  his  self-respect.  Magis- 
trate Hatting  seemed  anxious  to  make  everybody  comfortable — Juliet, 
the  Catholics,  the  police,  and  the  public — and  to  convey  the  impression 
nobody  was  really  to  blame. 

Since  the  wife  of  a  prominent  lawyer  had  become  involved,  people 
in  high  places  in  New  York  had  an  obligation  to  protect  their  own. 
Publicity  had  been  great  before ;  now  it  was  multiplied  tenfold.  A  letter 
was  addressed  to  Mayor  Hylan : 

The  action  of  the  Police  Department  .  .  .  constitutes  such  a  wilful 
violation  of  the  right  of  free  speech  as  to  cause  grave  alarm  to  the 
citizens  of  New  York,  who  have  a  right  to  know  why  such  outrages 
have  taken  place,  what  motives  and  influences  are  behind  them,  and 
whether  any  conspiracy  exists  in  the  Police  Department  to  deny  the 
right  of  free  speech  and  the  equal  protection  of  the  law  to  citizens  of 
New  York.  This  obviously  is  a  matter  of  the  gravest  concern. 

We,  therefore,  ask  an  immediate  and  full  investigation  to  be  fol- 
lowed, if  the  evidence  warrants,  by  such  disciplinary  measures  against 
the  officials  found  to  be  guilty  as  will  discourage  similar  offenses  here- 
after. 


LAWS    WERE    LIKE    COBWEBS  313 

This  demand  was  signed  by  Henry  Morgenthau,  Sr.,  Herbert  L. 
Satterlee,  Paul  D.  Cravath,  Lewis  L.  Delafield,  Charles  C.  Burling- 
ham,  Samuel  H.  Ordway,  Pierre  Jay,  Paul  M.  Warburg,  Charles 
Strauss,  Montgomery  Hare. 

As  a  result,  Mayor  Hylan  delegated  David  F.  Hirshfield,  Commis- 
sioner of  Accounts,  to  supervise  an  investigation  into  the  previous 
investigation.  The  first  session  was  diverted  into  a  discussion  of  the 
merits  of  birth  control.  The  Commissioner  was  facetious,  and,  when 
Mr.  Marsh  kept  after  him  for  interrupting  witnesses  and  getting  off 
the  subject,  finally  said  he  had  been  insulted  and  refused  to  continue 
as  long  as  Mr.  Marsh  represented  us. 

At  the  three  subsequent  hearings  Emory  R.  Buckner  took  charge 
of  our  interests.  Dolphin,  although  summoned,  did  not  appear  at  any 
of  them.  Captain  Donohue  testified  that  Desk  Lieutenant  Joseph 
Courtney  had  received  the  information  over  the  telephone,  and  had 
passed  it  on  to  him.  So  far  as  he  knew  it  was  the  telephone  operator 
who  had  given  the  orders  to  close  the  meeting.  But  he  would,  he  said, 
have  done  so  anyhow. 

"What  law  did  Mrs.  Sanger  violate?"  asked  Mr.  Buckner. 

"She  was  disorderly.  I  requested  her  several  times  to  leave  the 
platform  and  she  defied  me  and  said  she  would  not  do  it.  She  caused 
quite  a  commotion  and  people  were  all  hollering  and  yelling,  a  general 
commotion." 

"You  think  it  was  a  crime  for  her  to  commence  to  speak  after  a 
Captain  of  Police  had  told  her  not  to  ?" 

"Yes." 

"Was  Miss  Winsor  also  arrested  because  she  attempted  to  speak 
after  being  told  to  keep  quiet  ?" 

"She  said  she  knew  a  woman  who  had  nine  children  and  the  audi- 
ence commenced  to  holler  and  try  to  pull  the  policemen  off  the  stage." 

Even  the  Commissioner  was  becoming  annoyed  at  Donohue's  in- 
anities. He  said  to  Mr.  Buckner,  "You  do  not  have  to  put  any  witnesses 
on  to  show  the  intelligence  and  the  lack  of  sight  or  foresight  of  the 
Captain.  You  and  I,  I  think,  will  agree  on  that  point."  And  then  he 
turned  to  Donohue.  "Now,  Captain,  will  you  tell  me  the  reason  for 
acting  in  the  Hall  as  you  did  to  prevent  that  meeting  ?  You  see,  I  do  not 
know  whether  you  understand  me  or  not.  You  policemen,  you  do  not 


314  MARGARET    SANGER 

usually  understand  ordinary  language.  I  want  to  know  what  was  in 
your  mind ;  why  did  you  act  as  you  did,  that  is  all." 

"Because  I  had  orders  to  do  so."  But  he  would  not  admit  they  came 
from  any  further  back  than  the  Desk  Lieutenant. 

Officer  Murphy  was  put  on  the  stand  next,  and  the  Commissioner 
gave  him  a  chance  to  explain  what  had  prompted  him  to  make  the  ar- 
rest. "I  figured  this  way.  If  it  would  be  a  crime  to  run  such  a  meeting 
or  hold  such  a  meeting  in  the  City  of  New  York  according  to  the  Penal 
Law,  if  Mrs.  Rublee  was  an  assistant  with  Mrs.  Sanger  or  anybody 
else  in  running  such  a  meeting,  and  there  were  distributed  circulars  re- 
garding prevention  of  conception,  Mrs.  Rublee  was  just  as  much 
responsible  for  the  distribution  of  these  circulars  as  anybody  else." 

"The  circulars  stated  there  would  be  a  public  mass  meeting  at  Town 
Hall  on  birth  control,"  said  Mr.  Buckner  promptly.  "Is  that  a  crime?" 

The  Commissioner  interrupted.  "Mr.  Buckner,  you  do  not  expect 
this  young  man  to  be  interested  in  that.  He  is  too  young  to  know  about 
birth  control.  The  old,  bald-headed  ones  are  the  only  ones  that  are 
interested  in  it." 

And  late  in  the  afternoon  he  said,  "I  am  too  busy  and  have  too  much 
work  to  do,  so  we  won't  have  any  summing  up." 

At  the  concluding  session  Desk  Lieutenant  Courtney  disclaimed  all 
liability,  saying  the  only  order  given  to  Captain  Donohue  was  to  take 
a  number  of  policemen  to  the  meeting  and  see  that  the  law  was  not 
violated;  thereafter  the  Captain  had  acted  on  his  own  responsibility. 

As  far  as  I  was  concerned  the  final  scene  in  the  farce  took  place  be- 
fore the  elderly  and  firm  Judge  John  W.  Goff,  one  of  the  official 
referees  of  the  Supreme  Court  who  was  to  hear  the  charges  before  the 
New  York  Bar  Association  as  to  whether  Dolphin  should  be  disbarred. 
He  was  summoned  again  in  vain  until  Judge  Goff  said  angrily,  "Unless 
he  comes  within  the  hour,  I'll  subpoena  him,"  and  at  last,  still  in  his 
alpaca  coat,  he  put  in  an  appearance.  I  was  on  the  stand  almost  an 
entire  afternoon  during  which  the  attorney  representing  Dolphin  was 
attacking  me  personally  instead  of  inquiring  into  Juliet's  arrest. 

"Do  you  know  Carlo  Tresca  ?" 

"Yes." 

"Do  you  know  Alexander  Berkman?" 

''Yes." 


LAWS    WERE   LIKE    COBWEBS  315 

I  could  now  see  what  was  coming ;  radicals  were  always  made  the 
whipping  boys  and,  in  lieu  of  specific  charges,  any  acquaintance  with 
them  was  made  to  seem  incriminating. 

"Do  you  know  Emma  Goldman?"  Here  the  attorney's  voice  rose 
in  outrage,  and  he  looked  at  Judge  Goff  as  though  to  say,  "There 
you  have  it." 

"Yes,"  I  reiterated,  "but  I  also  know  Mrs.  Andrew  Carnegie  and 
Mr.  John  D.  Rockefeller,  Jr.  My  social  relations  are  with  people  of 
varying  ideas  and  opinions." 

The  next  attempt  was  a  subtle  sort  of  third  degree,  aiming  to  con- 
fuse me  and  imply  I  was  an  inaccurate  witness.  "What  was  the  precise 
time  you  entered  the  room  where  Mrs.  Rublee  was  arrested  ?  How  large 
was  it?  How  long,  how  wide,  how  high,  how  many  windows  were 
there  ?  Who  was  called  first  ?  Where  were  you  sitting  ?  How  far  was 
Inspector  Lahey  from  your  chair  ?  Were  you  second,  third,  or  fourth 
on  the  right  side  or  left  side?  How  wide  was  the  table,  how  long? 
Where  was  the  door  located  relative  to  the  table?" 

Usually  I  could  not  have  remembered  one  such  immaterial  and  un- 
necessary detail.  But  that  afternoon  I  was  given  second  sight.  I  could 
visualize  the  room ;  my  mind  seemed  to  be  projected  into  it  so  that 
every  particular  stood  out  with  the  utmost  clarity.  It  was  an  excellent 
lesson  to  me ;  thereafter  I  observed  much  more  carefully. 

After  hours  of  this  cross-examination  I  was  physically  exhausted, 
as  though  I  had  been  flung  back  and  forth,  beaten  and  pounded  from 
the  bottom  of  my  feet  to  the  top  of  my  head.  I  almost  looked  at  my 
arms  to  see  whether  they  were  black  and  blue,  they  ached  so. 

It  was  all  useless.  The  police  went  unreprimanded,  Donohue  was 
promoted  when  things  had  quieted  down,  and  Dolphin,  though  Judge 
Goff  recommended  prosecution  and  the  Court  of  Appeals  stated  that 
his  conduct  was  "arbitrary  and  unlawful,"  was  not  disbarred  because 
he  had  not  been  acting  in  an  official  capacity  when  he  had  ordered  the 
arrest.  In  spite  of  the  inconvenience,  the  humiliation  of  halls  closed, 
covenants  broken — exactly  nothing  happened. 


Chapter  Twenty-five 


ALIEN  STARS  ARISE 


IN  the  summer  of  192 1  I  had  signed  a  contract  with  the  Kaizo 
group,  which  had  arranged  a  series  of  lectures  in  Japan  by  four 
speakers :  Albert  Einstein  was  to  explain  relativity,  Bertrand  Russell 
the  consequences  of  the  Peace  of  Versailles,  H.  G.  Wells  his  version 
of  international  accord,  and  I  was  to  discuss  population  control,  de- 
livering in  March  and  April  eight  to  ten  lectures  of  five  hours  each. 
The  five-hour  clause  I  innocently  believed  to  be  merely  a  mistake  on 
the  part  of  the  translator,  but  I  had  faith  in  the  common  sense  of 
human  nature  and  expected  the  error  to  be  taken  care  of  when  I 
arrived. 

January  and  February  were  months  of  feverish  activity.  I  spoke  in 
city  after  city — Boston,  Baltimore,  Philadelphia,  and  elsewhere — 
rushing  back  to  New  York  to  Town  Hall  hearings  and  farewell 
luncheons  and  dinners.  The  prolongation  of  the  Town  Hall  episode 
had  been  entirely  unforeseen.  If  bookings  had  not  already  been  made 
requiring  my  departure  in  February,  I  should  have  postponed  the 
trip.  But  I  had  promised,  and  lecture  dates  were  binding  obligations. 

Stuart  was  at  Peddie  Institute  where  my  brother  Bob  had  gone,  cap- 
tain of  his  football  team,  preparing  for  college,  having  a  full  and  rich 
time.  Grant  was  there  also  but  he  was  barely  thirteen ;  I  could  not  bear 
to  put  the  broad  Pacific  between  us.  The  headmaster  warned  me  that 
he  was  only  beginning  to  adjust  himself  to  the  school  and  his  studies, 
and  would  be  set  back  at  least  a  year  if  I  took  him  with  me.  I  agreed 
to  reconsider,  but  I  am  afraid  I  had  made  up  my  mind  beforehand. 

3I(5 


ALIEN    STARS   ARISE  317 

With  scant  ceremony  and  scarcely  enough  clean  shirts,  I  bundled  him 
up  and  away,  leaving  the  turbulence  of  New  York  behind. 

Since  Grant  was  to  travel  on  my  passport,  I  had  to  have  it  renewed, 
and  had  telegraphed  Washington  for  it  to  be  sent  to  the  West  Coast 
where  the  detail  of  a  visa  could  also  be  attended  to.  At  San  Francisco 
it  was  waiting.  With  the  little  book  and  Grant  in  tow  I  presented  my- 
self to  the  Japanese  Consul.  Instead  of  stamping  it  as  the  usual  mere 
formality,  he  examined  it  carefully  and  then,  apologizing  profusely, 
regretted  very  much  that  the  Japanese  Imperial  Government  could 
not  give  me  a  visa. 

Here  was  a  state  of  things.  I  asked  him  whether  he  could  find  out 
the  precise  reasons.  Was  it  that  I  as  a  person  could  not  go  there,  or 
was  my  subject  taboo?  The  next  day,  after  a  cable  to  Tokyo  and 
much  polite  bowing,  he  notified  me  it  was  both.  In  varying  degrees 
of  amusement  and  indignation  the  papers  published  the  fact  that  the 
Japanese  were  turning  the  tables  on  the  United  States;  by  our  Ex- 
clusion Act  we  had  implied  they  were  undesirable  citizens,  and  now 
it  was  an  American  who  was  undesirable  to  them. 

The  steamship  company  would  not  sell  me  tickets  on  the  Taiyo 
Maru  without  the  visa.  Two  days  previous  to  her  sailing  a  Japanese 
who  had  been  in  the  United  States  for  the  Washington  Conference 
proffered  a  letter  of  introduction.  He  deplored  the  action  of  his  Gov- 
ernment and  was  desirous  of  being  helpful.  "The  Taiyo  Maru  is  go- 
ing on  to  Shanghai.  Why  don't  you  get  a  Chinese  visa  ?" 

I  always  chose  to  go  forward,  and  there  was  always  a  chance  that 
a  way  might  open.  A  hundred  and  fifty  Japanese  who  had  been  at  the 
conference — delegates,  professors,  doctors,  members  of  the  diplo- 
matic corps,  secretaries — were  returning  by  this  same  vessel.  Once  on 
board  I  could  meet  them  simply  and  informally,  and  I  was  sure  I 
could  convince  them  I  was  not  dangerous.  The  Chinese  Consul  granted 
a  visa  without  question,  our  tickets  were  delivered,  we  sailed  on  the 
Taiyo  Maru. 

I  had  never  before  been  on  a  Japanese  liner.  The  segregation 
between  whites  and  Orientals  horrified  me.  Here  were  the  aristocrats 
of  a  people  by  nature  intelligent,  well-bred,  well-clothed,  inclined  to 
be  friendly,  taking  Grant  under  their  wing,  and  teaching  us  both, 
amid  much  laughter,  to  eat  with  chopsticks.  They  had  made  valiant 


318  MARGARET    SANGER 

efforts  to  adapt  themselves  to  Occidentalism;  they  had  altered  their 
dress  and  fashion  of  eating — substituting  coats,  collars,  shoes  for 
loose  kimonos  and  soft  felt  slippers,  forks  and  knives  for  chopsticks ; 
they  sat  on  chairs  instead  of  kneeling  comfortably  on  the  floor.  Yet 
my  compatriots  kept  themselves  aloof.  Never  did  I  see  the  two  groups 
together  in  conversation;  they  joined  only  in  sports. 

At  night  members  of  the  crew  wrestled  in  the  moonlight,  and  I 
gazed  down  at  their  deck,  marveling  at  the  grips,  the  holds,  the  stout- 
ness of  legs,  the  strength  of  backs  and  arms,  the  quickness  of  action, 
the  primitive,  guttural  calls  of  the  umpires.  Others  of  the  crew 
stamped  their  feet  and,  for  good  luck,  threw  pinches  of  salt  towards 
their  respective  champions. 

Two  days  out  the  Japanese  asked  me  to  address  them.  I  willingly 
complied,  and  the  dining  room  was  closed  off  for  the  purpose.  Ad- 
miral Baron  Kato,  who  was  later  to  be  Prime  Minister,  and  headed 
the  delegation,  talked  to  me  afterwards.  He  had  the  culture,  courtesy, 
restraint,  and  suavity  of  a  true  gentleman,  rather  than  the  mien  of  the 
war  lord  his  title  seemed  to  imply. 

Equally  genial  was  Masanao  Hanihara,  then  Vice  Minister  of 
Foreign  Affairs  and  destined  to  be  Ambassador  to  the  United  States. 
He  knew  American  ways  and  manners,  or  mannerisms,  if  you  wish 
to  name  them  so ;  he  was  understanding,  and  perhaps  one  of  the  most 
fluent  of  the  Japanese  I  met  in  the  ease  of  his  English.  He  told  me  his 
people  were  not  likely  to  accept  the  idea  of  birth  control  as  a  social 
philosophy,  though  they  were  bound  to  accept  the  economic  aspects, 
and  all  the  young  would  be  interested  as  individuals. 

Not  until  later  did  I  learn  how  happily  my  contact  with  these  two 
gentlemen  had  resulted.  They  had  separately  cabled  their  Government 
asking  that  I  be  allowed  to  lecture  in  Japan. 

At  Honolulu  I  had  one  short  afternoon  into  which  to  crowd  so 
much.  With  leisliung  about  my  neck  I  was  whisked  off  for  lunch  to  a 
magical  house  at  Waikiki,  then  to  a  big  meeting.  What  surprised  and 
pleased  me  most  was  the  complete  absence  of  race  prejudice.  I  looked 
out  over  faces,  mostly  American  but  with  a  liberal  sprinkling  of 
Chinese  and  Japanese  in  their  native  costumes  and  Hawaiians  in 
bright  Mother  Hubbards.  Honolulu  was  the  only  place  I  had  found 
where,  class  for  class,  internationalism  did  exist. 


ALIEN    STARS   ARISE  319 

Two  Japanese  correspondents  followed  my  zigzag  trail,  notebooks 
in  hand,  pencils  working  furiously.  They  even  inserted  questions  as  I 
was  swept  towards  the  boat  where,  breathless  and  almost  in  a  daze, 
we  were  garlanded  once  more.  They  had  a  scoop  and  were  going  to 
cable  their  favorable  impressions  to  their  papers  in  Japan. 

Their  efforts  had  definitely  produced  a  favorable  reaction  on  board 
ship.  Individuals  and  delegations  of  Japanese  came  into  my  stateroom 
at  any  time — morning,  afternoon,  or  evening — "to  be  informed." 
Although  they  did  not  knock,  this  was  not  considered  an  invasion  of 
privacy,  provided  they  bowed  profoundly  on  their  way  in ;  on  entering 
and  on  leaving  they  bowed  and  bowed,  again  and  again.  They  seemed 
to  know  more  about  my  affairs  and  my  children  than  I  did  myself, 
mentioning  things  I  had  completely  forgotten,  even  reminding  me  of 
my  unspoken  thoughts  of  long  ago. 

Past  experience  had  taught  me  that  when  a  despotic  and  arbitrary 
screen  was  interposed  between  birth  control  and  the  people,  the  desire 
for  knowledge  was  immeasurably  enhanced.  This  was  particularly 
true  in  Japan,  where  the  recent  renaissance  had  quickened  the  public 
mind.  At  the  announcement  I  could  not  land,  officialdom  was  sub- 
jected to  frank  criticism. 

A  little,  round-faced  boy  called  me  each  morning,  murmuring 
something  in  a  voice  so  soft  and  melodious  it  almost  lulled  me  back 
to  sleep.  With  the  coffee,  which  tended  to  wake  me,  he  announced, 
"Madam  Sanger  go  in  maybe.  Yes,  Japanese  Government  let  her  go 
in."  In  ten  minutes  he  would  return  with  the  reversal  of  this  news. 
He  was  aware  of  the  contents  of  the  radiograms  which  kept  the 
aerials  crackling  even  before  they  had  been  delivered  to  me.  One 
read,  "Thousands  disciples  welcome  you."  Another,  "Possible  land 
Yokohama;  impossible  discourse."  From  the  ship's  daily  I  learned 
first  that  I  might  lecture,  but  not  publicly;  and  then,  a  day  later,  after 
continuous  derision  on  the  part  of  the  press — all  right,  I  might  talk 
publicly  if  I  wished,  but  under  no  condition  on  birth  control.  The 
last  word  I  received  was  that  I  could  land  but  speak  only  in  private. 
From  the  Ishimotos  came  the  message,  "Anticipate  your  staying 
with  us." 

March  ioth  was  so  dripping  and  foggy  that  when  we  reached 
Tokyo  Bay  I  could  not  see  Japan.  The  arrival  of  the  Taiyo  Maru 


320  MARGARET    SANGER 

bearing  such  an  array  of  distinguished  passengers  as  the  conference 
delegates  was  bound  to  call  forth  unusual  activity.  A  veritable  flotilla 
met  the  ship — police  and  health  officers'  launches,  mail  tenders  and 
press  dispatch  carriers.  Two  officials  came  on  board  to  interrogate 
me,  and  the  three  of  us  retired  to  my  cabin,  where  our  bags  had  been 
hopefully  packed.  I  showed  my  passport,  told  the  purpose  of  my  visit, 
explained  how  I  happened  to  know  the  Ishimotos  and  Mr.  Yamanoto 
of  the  Kaizo  group.  Inspector  and  interpreter  alike  smiled  amiably  as 
they  plied  their  questions,  ending  with  the  polite  query,  "Who  is  pay- 
ing your  expenses?"  The  implication  was  that  I  might  be  a  secret 
agent  sent  by  the  United  States  Government  to  deplete  the  population 
of  Japan  and  to  prepare  the  way  for  an  American  invasion.  This 
was  particularly  amusing,  since  I  was  one  of  the  persons  thoroughly 
disapproved  of  by  my  Government. 

At  the  end  of  the  lengthy  catechism  it  was  agreed  that  the  ban 
would  be  removed  if  I,  for  my  part,  agreed  not  to  lecture  publicly 
on  birth  control,  and  provided  the  American  Consul  General  Skid- 
more  formally  requested  permission  for  me  to  land.  I  had  sent  him 
a  wireless  message  from  the  Taiyo  Maru  saying  I  would  like  to  visit 
the  country,  if  not  as  a  lecturer  at  least  as  a  private  citizen,  and  asking 
him  to  use  his  influence.  Though  I  had  had  no  reply  I  sent  off  a  tele- 
gram to  him  immediately,  and  Grant  and  I  sat  down  on  the  luggage  to 
await  developments. 

The  two  officials  had  no  sooner  taken  their  departure  than  the  little 
cabin  was  filled  to  bursting  with  the  gentlemen  of  the  press.  We 
started  and  blinked  with  each  rapid-fire,  flashlight  explosion.  The 
room  was  literally  smoking  with  the  acrid  powder,  and  not  an  inch 
of  standing  room  remained.  Seventy  were  all  trying  to  get  in  at  once ; 
whatever  I  said  had  to  be  relayed  and  translated  to  the  unsuccessful 
ones  who  brimmed  over  into  the  corridor. 

Meanwhile,  we  had  docked  at  Yokohama  and,  when  the  reporters 
were  finally  disposed  of,  my  friends,  who  had  been  patiently  enduring 
the  rain,  greeted  me — Mr.  Yamanoto,  Mr.  Wilson  of  the  British  Em- 
bassy, Baroness  Ishimoto,  and  "the  missionary  who  lived  next  door." 
After  welcoming  me  they  left,  the  last  named  carrying  with  him  my 
briefcase  laden  with  my  most  private  papers  and  pamphlets,  which  I 
did  not  wish  seized  at  the  Customs. 


ALIEN    STARS   ARISE  32 1 

Now  came  the  tapping  of  clogs  along  the  passage,  and  in  the  door- 
way were  framed  slight,  doll-like  figures,  pale  white  faces,  crimson 
lips,  black  glossy  hair  beautifully  coiffured,  butterfly-looking  obis. 
The  trials  of  the  day  vanished  before  their  bobbing  little  bows.  Here 
was  a  Japanese  fairy  tale  come  true. 

In  precise  English  the  leader  introduced  the  others ;  this  one  repre- 
sented the  silk  manufacturers,  that  one  the  weavers;  each  of  the 
twenty-five  was  appearing  for  some  laboring  organization.  She  ex- 
plained they  had  been  there  all  day,  but  it  was  nothing — they  were  so 
proud  to  be  the  first  to  welcome  the  herald  of  freedom  for  women. 
The  Industrial  Revolution  which  had  put  them  to  work  was  still  so 
young  that  they  were  in  virtual  slavery.  Yet,  she  said,  they  were  so 
accustomed  to  subservience  that  it  would  be  a  long  time  until  they 
learned  to  rebel  against  their  wrongs.  Suffrage  was  slow — Japanese 
women  found  it  difficult  to  see  its  advantages.  They  could  not  be 
stirred  by  offers  of  economic  independence ;  it  was  a  higher  ideal  to 
have  husbands  take  care  of  their  wives  than  have  them  battle  for 
themselves.  She  was  certain  no  inspiration  was  to  be  found  in  that 
quarter. 

Then,  with  eyes  sparkling,  she  added,  "But  when  the  message  of 
birth  control  came  to  us  from  Honolulu,  like  the  lightning  we  under- 
stood its  meaning,  and  now  we  are  all  awakened." 

We  were  served  with  tea,  and  I  continued  to  await  a  reply  from 
Mr.  Skidmore,  but  none  ever  came.  Finally,  at  seven-thirty,  due  to 
the  British  Mr.  Wilson's  intercession,  the  Imperial  Government  at 
last  opened  its  gates  to  me  without  the  sponsorship  of  my  own  Gov- 
ernment. 

I  still  had  to  go  through  Customs.  Papers  and  books,  including 
forty  copies  of  Family  Limitation,  were  confiscated.  Thereafter  I 
usually  left  spaces  in  my  diaries  instead  of  writing  out  names,  because 
I  never  knew  who  was  going  to  see  them. 

The  Customs  men  further  minutely  examined  my  clothes,  acces- 
sories, even  necklaces  and  ornaments,  holding  them  up,  laughing  at 
them,  calling  each  other  to  come  and  look,  in  order  to  inform  them- 
selves as  much  on  the  composition  and  design  as  to  determine  whether 
they  were  dutiable.  The  data  they  gleaned  thus  from  incoming  travel- 
ers they  stored  away  like  squirrels — and  cheaply-manufactured  rep- 


322  MARGARET    SANGER 

licas  shortly  appeared  on  Woolworth  counters,  stamped  in  purple 
ink,  "Made  in  Japan." 

When  I  emerged,  tired  and  damp,  more  crowds  pressed  around 
seeking  autographs.  Everywhere  in  Japan  people  wanted  your  signa- 
ture. One  man,  who  spoke  some  English,  said  he  represented  the 
Ricksha-men's  Union  and  apologized  for  the  trouble  to  which  I  had 
been  put.  "Sometime  Japanese  Government  he  little  autocratic."  For 
that  matter  everybody  apologized  for  the  Government. 

After  the  torrents  of  rain,  logs  blazing  in  fireplaces  warmed  us  in 
the  Ishimotos'  charming  house  at  Tokyo.  Grant  and  I  were  both  in  a 
large  room,  almost  bare  of  furnishings,  exquisite  in  its  simplicity. 
The  fragile  walls  of  painted  silk  gave  an  impression  of  airiness. 

Next  to  us  was  the  huge  bathroom,  the  floor  and  lower  walls  of 
burnished,  shining  copper.  In  the  center,  raised  on  legs,  stood  a  great 
wooden  tub  with  a  top  that  closed  down,  and  a  hole  for  your  neck. 
Five  or  six  basins  were  ranged  around  the  room  and,  beside  each, 
brush  and  soap.  You  were  supposed  to  scrub  and  scrub  and  then  rinse 
by  throwing  pans  of  water  over  you.  Finally  you  entered  the  steaming 
tub  to  relax.  It  was  not  etiquette  to  leave  any  trace  of  soap  in  the 
bath  or  any  evidence  of  its  use,  because  everybody  in  the  family 
soaked  in  that  water  before  the  night  was  over — guests,  hosts,  and 
servants  in  order. 

I  sank  gratefully  on  one  of  the  mattresses  borrowed  for  our  com- 
fort and  laid  on  the  floor ;  the  rest  of  the  household  slept  on  mats  with 
wooden  blocks  in  place  of  pillows,  a  custom  which  allowed  the  ladies 
to  keep  their  coiffures  intact  for  a  week  at  a  time.  Through  the  frail 
partitions  we  could  hear  the  servants  laughing  and  chatting  until 
late  into  the  night,  men  and  women  together,  carrying  on  their  bath- 
ing as  though  it  were  a  function  of  eating. 

Our  days  were  tremendously  busy,  beginning  early  with  the  ring- 
ing of  the  antiquated  telephone  on  the  wall.  People  came  silently  in 
rickshas  and  departed  after  conversing  with  the  Baron  and  Baroness. 

Old  Japan  had  extended  esthetics  into  the  realm  of  ordinary  exist- 
ence, and  undoubtedly  had  produced  a  thing  of  beauty.  The  gestures  of 
ceremony  might  have  meant  little,  but  they  made  delightful  the  ar- 
ranging of  any  affair  whatever.  The  Japanese  always  greeted  each 
other  with  a  bow  from  the  waistline,  hands  gliding  down  to  the  knees. 


9     ALIEN   STARS  ARISE  323 

The  difference  between  one  and  another  was  so  subtle  that  a  foreigner 
could  hardly  distinguish  it,  but  it  was  there  all  the  same.  A  particular 
mark  of  respect  was  the  triple  bow,  graduated  according  to  the  social 
rank — an  inclination,  a  slight  pause,  a  deeper  inclination,  again  a 
pause,  and  then  down  further  until  the  back  was  nearly  horizontal. 

Grant,  who  was  very  affectionate,  had  been  accustomed  to  kiss  me 
when  we  met,  whether  it  were  in  a  restaurant,  hotel,  on  the  street, 
or  anywhere  else  for  that  matter.  But  he  had  to  forego  this  salute  in 
Japan  when  we  observed  that  kissing  was  a  shock  to  Japanese  sensi- 
bilities, and,  indeed,  was  considered  immoral.  Instead,  he  took  over 
Japanese  manners  and  became  marvelously  courteous.  Practically 
every  time  he  spoke  to  me  he  made  the  three  bows,  and  unconsciously 
I  soon  found  myself  returning  them  with  equal  formality. 

Politeness  in  behavior,  impersonal  and  ritualistic,  was  most  notice- 
able in  those  relationships  where  we  naturally  expected  habitual  and 
conventional  reserve  to  be  thrown  aside.  When  the  Baroness  Ishi- 
moto's  mother  and  sister  were  coming  for  lunch,  she  donned  a  special 
kimono,  set  out  special  vases  and  screens,  greeted  them  with  the  pre- 
scribed bows,  wordings,  and  gestures.  Even  I  noticed  the  civilities 
accorded  the  two  were  not  the  same.  The  effect  was  that  the  mother 
occupied  the  place  of  honor  as  though  she  were  receiving. 

Men  came  also  to  the  Ishimotos'  to  plan  for  the  various  meetings 
and  entertainments.  A  member  of  the  House  of  Lords  telephoned  to 
say  he  was  a  "disciple."  The  press  sought  interviews.  Early  in  my 
career  I  had  realized  the  importance  of  giving  clear,  concise,  and 
true  concepts  of  birth  control  to  those  who  wished  to  quote  me.  This 
simple  policy  served  my  purpose  particularly  well  in  the  Orient,  where 
technical  phrases  in  English  were  hopelessly  confusing.  Under  any 
circumstances  our  language  was  peculiarly  difficult  for  the  Japanese, 
and  their  phraseology  was  sometimes  convulsingly  funny.  One  letter 
from  a  dismissed  government  employee  to  the  head  of  his  department 
was  making  the  rounds  of  Occidentals  in  the  East : 

Kind  Sir,  on  opening  this  epistle  you  will  behold  the  work  of  a  de- 
jobbed  person,  and  a  very  bewifed  and  much  childrenized  gentleman, 
who  was  violently  dejobbed  in  a  twinkling  by  your  goodself.  For 
Heaven's  sake,  sir,  consider  this  catastrophe  as  falling  on  your  own 
head,  and  remind  yourself  on  walking  home  at  the  moon's  end  to 


324  MARGARET    SANGER 

savage  wife  and  sixteen  voracious  children  with  your  pocket  filled 
with  non-existent  pennies  and  pity  my  horrible  state.  When  being  de- 
jobbed  and  proceeding  with  a  heart  and  intestines  filled  with  misery 
in  this  den  of  doom,  myself  did  greedily  contemplate  culpable  homi- 
cide, but  Him  who  protected  Daniel  (poet)  safe  through  the  Lion's 
den  will  protect  his  servant  in  this  home  of  evil.  As  to  reason  given 
by  yourself  esquire  for  my  dejobment  the  incrimination  was  laziness. 

NO  SIR.  It  were  impossible  that  myself  who  has  pitched  sixteen 
infant  children  into  this  vale  of  tears  can  have  a  lazy  atom  in  his 
mortal  frame,  and  a  sudden  departure  of  eleven  pounds  has  left  me 
on  the  verge  of  the  abyss  of  destitution  and  despair. 

I  hope  this  vision  of  horror  will  enrich  your  dreams  this  night  and 
good  Angel  will  meet  and  pulverize  your  heart  of  nether  millstone 
so  that  you  will  awaken  and  with  such  alacrity  as  may  be  compatible 
with  your  personal  safety,  and  will  hasten  to  rejobulate  your  servant. 

So  mote  it  be,  Amen, 

Yours  despair  fully, 

Akono  Subusu 

And  on  the  bottom  of  the  letter  the  district  officer  had  noted : 

Gentle  Reader,  do  not  sob — 
Akono  Subusu  has  been  re  jobbed. 

I  myself  had  a  letter  from  a  gentleman  who  wrote,  "How  I  am 
unavoidably  in  need  to  execute  your  'Ism'  and  hope  to  know  your 
effective  method." 

Had  it  been  allowed,  I  should  have  given  forth  practical  informa- 
tion. Since  it  was  not,  I  believed  if  I  could  make  plain  to  the  author- 
ities that  I  was  not  going  to  break  this  rule  in  my  lectures,  they  could 
find  no  fault  with  them. 

Accordingly,  the  morning  of  our  second  day  in  Tokyo  an  appoint- 
ment was  made  with  the  Police  Governor.  In  spite  of  the  early  hour 
the  hard  little  official,  his  close-cropped  hair  revealing  all  the  bumps 
and  developments,  served  us  tea.  The  Japanese  always  handed  you 
tea  as  we  pass  cigarettes — in  embarrassment,  for  relaxation,  or  just 
to  tie  up  loose  moments.  Disregarding  the  vital  subject  completely  we 
discussed  current  topics  through  an  interpreter.  Though  all  the  people 
were  intensely  serious,  they  were  remarkably  fond  of  plays  on  words. 
Merrily  I  was  told  my  name  had  created  much  confusion  owing  to  its 
similarity  to  sangai  san,  which  meant  "destructive  to  production." 


-  ALIEN   STARS   ARISE  325 

Birth  control  was  thus  delicately  introduced.  For  the  first  time  I 
heard  about  the  Dangerous  Thought  Law,  which  had  been  sponsored 
in  Parliament  by  a  group  called  the  "Thought  Controllers,"  who 
aimed  to  exclude  from  the  country  all  ideas  not  conforming  to  ancient 
Japanese  tradition.  The  Police  Governor  assumed  he  knew  exactly 
what  I  had  planned  to  talk  about,  and  I  could  not  move  him  from  the 
conviction  that  I  wanted  to  present  a  Dangerous  Thought. 

I  was  not,  however,  going  to  let  the  matter  drop.  I  went  higher  up 
to  the  Home  Affairs  Office.  A  courteous  gentleman  informed  me  the 
Minister  sent  his  regards  and  hoped  to  have  the  pleasure  of  seeing  me 
some  other  time.  There  was  no  tea.  I  was  politely  bowed  out. 

My  next  stop  was  at  the  Kaizo  office,  where  the  entire  staff  was 
called  into  consultation.  They  were  bristly  and  burly  enough  to  be 
taken  for  Russians ;  only  their  kimonos  identified  them  as  Japanese. 
One  and  all  decided  we  should  go  in  person  to  the  Imperial  Diet. 
There,  on  presentation  of  our  cards,  couriers  started  running  around 
to  find  the  Chief.  In  a  few  moments  the  door  of  the  room  into  which 
we  had  been  ushered  was  opened,  and  in  came  the  very  same  man 
with  whom  I  had  conversed  at  the  Home  Office  that  morning.  Pro- 
foundly embarrassed  I  explained  this  was  the  way  of  impatient  Amer- 
icans, who  were  bent  on  hurrying  things  along.  He  was  very  kind, 
and  said  he  had  been  on  the  point  of  giving  me  permission  to  speak 
publicly  provided  I  did  not  mention  birth  control.  When  I  sketched 
an  outline  of  a  possible  population  lecture  we  laughed  and  agreed  the 
Empire  of  Japan  was  not,  as  a  result,  going  to  fall. 

Almost  from  the  time  of  landing  I  had  been  deeply  conscious  that 
I  was  in  one  of  the  most  thickly  populated  countries  of  the  world. 
The  Ishimotos'  automobile  honked,  honked,  at  every  turn  of  the 
wheels  to  squeeze  through  rickshas,  pedestrians,  and  children  in  the 
narrow,  unpaved  streets. 

In  any  traffic  danger  the  first  concern  was  always  for  the  baby.  I 
never  saw  one  slapped,  struck,  scolded,  or  punished.  I  never  heard  one 
cry;  they  all  seemed  happy  and  smiling,  though  I  must  admit  a  few  of 
them  needed  to  have  their  little  noses  wiped.  I  could  not  believe  any 
country  could  contain  so  many  babies.  Fathers  carried  them  in  their 
arms;  mothers  carried  them  in  a  sort  of  shawl;  children  carried 
babies;  even  babies  carried  smaller  babies.  I  saw  a  land  of  one-story 


326  MARGARET   SANGER 

houses  but  of  two-story  children.  Boys  with  babies  on  their  backs 
were  playing  baseball,  running  to  bases,  the  heads  of  the  babies  wob- 
bling so  that  you  thought  their  necks  were  surely  going  to  be  broken. 

The  momentum  that  had  come  from  the  high  birth  rate  was  felt 
in  every  walk  of  life.  Peers,  business  and  professional  men  were  all 
having  large  families.  One  told  me  he  wanted  twenty  children.  When 
I  asked  him  how  many  he  had  already  he  replied,  "Two,"  and  he 
was  offended  when  I  suggested  that  perhaps  his  wife,  instead  of  him- 
self, had  had  those. 

The  density  of  population  in  tillable  areas  of  Japan  averaged  two 
thousand  human  beings  to  the  square  mile,  and  it  was  increasing  at 
the  rate  of  almost  a  million  a  year.  Although  they  built  terraced  rice 
paddies  on  their  hillsides  with  tremendous  labor  they  could  not  feed 
themselves.  Furthermore,  lacking  ore,  petroleum,  and  an  adequate 
supply  of  coal,  they  could  not  develop  their  industries  to  a  point  where 
they  could  exchange  their  products  for  enough  food. 

The  Government  should  itself  have  been  disseminating  contracep- 
tive information,  but  the  army  faction  was  not  friendly  to  it  and 
claimed  Japan  could  never  be  respected  in  the  eyes  of  the  world  until 
she  possessed  a  force  sufficiently  powerful  to  make  might  right.  It 
was  even  then  too  late  for  birth  control  to  offset  the  inevitability  of 
her  overflowing  her  borders;  the  population  pressure  was  bound  to 
cause  an  explosion  in  spite  of  the  safety  valve  of  Korea.  How  long 
this  could  be  delayed  was  a  matter  of  pure  conjecture. 


Chapter  Twenty-six 


THE  EAST  IS  BLOSSOMING 


*J2v  *JJv  *m  *^)v  w?  w/  wJ  w?  wJ  vJy  v»v  vJy  vJv  vK*  vK*  vK*  vK*  Cw  (w  vK*  w  (w  vw  CK*  vw  vK* 

A  FTER  I  found  out  where  I  stood  with  the  Government,  the  silent 
X~\.  friends  who  had  come  and  gone  so  frequently  from  the  Ishimoto 
home  produced  plans  for  various  meetings.  In  each  one  the  address 
was  to  a  particular  class  which  did  not  mingle  with  others — commer- 
cial, educational,  medical,  parliamentary. 

The  Kaizo  group  were  intensely  disappointed  that  I  could  not  de- 
liver the  lectures  I  had  prepared  and  for  which  they  had  invited  me 
to  Japan.  As  a  compromise  we  agreed  that  I  should  have  to  focus 
my  War  and  Population  talk  around  Germany  and  the  Allies.  It  was 
going  to  be  difficult,  because  I  was  not  satisfied  with  the  European 
facts  and  figures  I  had. 

My  first  meeting  was  at  the  Tokyo  Y.M.C.A.  Shortly  before  one 
o'clock  I  was  escorted  with  great  ceremony  into  a  room  behind  the 
auditorium,  pungent  with  smoke  from  a  charcoal  stove.  Then  I  was 
presented  to  a  gathering  of  about  five  hundred — prosperous-looking 
men,  well-dressed  women,  students,  a  number  of  foreigners,  a  Bud- 
dhist priest  or  two,  and  a  liberal  sprinkling  of  the  Metropolitan  Police 
to  make  certain  my  audience  thought  no  dangerous  thoughts  as  a 
result  of  my  speech. 

Most  of  the  auditors  apparently  understood  some  English,  because 
while  I  was  speaking  they  leaned  forward  attentively,  laughing  in  the 
proper  places,  but  when  I  paused  for  the  translation  they  relaxed, 
rustled  papers,  and  whispered  to  each  other. 

I  had  discovered  that  the  five-hour  clause  in  my  contract  was  no 

327 


32B  MARGARET   SANGER 

mistake  and  no  joke.  Standing  from  one  until  six  was  a  frightful 
strain.  The  lecture  with  interpretations  took  three  hours,  although  I 
could  have  delivered  it  in  one,  and  questions  took  two  more.  Many 
of  these  were  on  subjects  entirely  alien  to  my  own.  "What  do  you 
think  of  missionaries  ?  What  do  you  think  of  Christianity  ?  Are  you 
yourself  a  Christian?"  This  last  was  naively  posed,  and,  thoroughly 
aware  of  the  significance  of  what  it  meant  truly  to  be  a  Christian,  I 
replied,  "I'm  afraid  I'm  not  a  very  good  one." 

My  questioner  put  out  his  chest  and  said  confidently,  "I  am." 

I  seemed  to  recall  my  adolescence  when  I  had  exacted  the  last  ounce 
of  righteousness  from  every  breathing  hour.  Many  of  the  Japanese 
converts  had  this  spirit.  They  were  trying  to  change  their  ancestral 
ideas  of  morality  and,  instead,  adopt  wholesale  the  Christian  code 
without  having  had  time  to  assimilate  it. 

The  most  painful  experience  I  had  in  Japan  was  in  addressing  the 
Tokyo  medical  association.  The  volunteer  interpreter  was  a  young 
doctor  who  had  been  on  a  three  weeks'  tour  of  America,  and  his  com- 
mand of  English  was  correspondingly  slight.  From  the  attitude  of 
the  audience  I  could  tell  whenever  he  was  not  conveying  my  meaning 
as  I  had  intended  it,  though  I  did  not  always  know  what  specifically 
was  wrong.  The  Baroness,  unable  to  bear  his  mis-translation  of 
"prevention  of  conception"  as  abortion,  which  she  knew  would  dis- 
tress me  intensely,  finally  rose  and  attempted  to  correct  the  erroneous 
impression  he  was  giving.  But  the  meeting  was  over  before  she  could 
make  it  clear., 

Nothing  had  been  said  about  remuneration.  I  expected  none.  But 
the  next  day  an  army  of  ten  rickshas  appeared.  The  officers  of  the 
society,  laden  with  packages  and  bundles,  presented  themselves.  One 
by  one  they  offered  boxes  in  which  I  found  an  elaborate  kimono,  an 
embroidered  table  cover,  a  purse,  a  fan,  a  cloisonne  jar,  and,  in  con- 
clusion, the  President  offered  me  the  smallest  package  of  all,  wrapped 
in  tissue  and  tied  with  a  paper  tape  on  which  were  the  characters  wish- 
ing me  health,  happiness,  and  longevity.  Opening  it  I  found  crisp  new 
bills  in  payment.  This  delicate  gesture  was  typically  Japanese. 

At  other  meetings  we  usually  sat  on  clean,  fresh  mats ;  the  room 
might  be  chilly,  but  a  little  charcoal  burner  was  beside  you  and  occa- 
sionally you  warmed  your  hands  over  it.  I  liked  the  service  and  the 


THE   EAST   IS   BLOSSOMING  329 

food  which  the  maids  silently  brought  all  at  once  on  a  tray,  covered 
over  and  steaming  hot.  After  sake  in  diminutive  porcelain  cups  the 
group  was  ready  to  converse,  and  it  was  cozy  and  interesting.  Often 
we  did  not  get  away  until  midnight  because,  although  the  discussion 
was  carried  on  in  English,  each  remark  was  translated  for  the  benefit 
of  those  who  did  not  understand.  The  Baroness  always  went  with  me, 
and  it  was  a  revelation  to  them  to  have  one  of  their  own  country- 
women present. 

I  had  heard  much  talk  of  the  Elder  Statesmen,  but  nobody  at  the 
Peers'  Club,  where  I  gave  an  afternoon  address,  seemed  to  be  even 
elderly.  They  were  curious  to  know  why  women  were  divorced, 
whether  they  wanted  more  than  one  husband,  whether  they  really 
could  ever  care  for  more  than  one  man,  the  nature  of  their  love  for 
children,  how  long  it  could  continue.  They  were  like  Europeans  in  the 
frankness  with  which  they  regarded  the  relationship  of  the  sexes.  Yet 
they  were  not  satisfied  with  the  accepted  Japanese  tradition — on  the 
one  hand  geisha  girls  who  played  and  coquetted  and  amused  them, 
and  on  the  other  wives  whose  place  as  yet  was  definitely  in  the  home. 
They  asked,  "Is  it  not  true  that  the  American  woman  can  be  all  things 
to  her  husband — his  companion,  mother  of  his  children,  mistress, 
business  manager,  and  friend?" 

I  agreed  with  them  that  this  was  the  ideal,  but  had  to  confess  that 
by  no  means  every  American  wife  fitted  into  this  picture. 

Many  of  the  Japanese  had  themselves  forgotten  that  in  the  heroic 
and  epic  days  women  had  enjoyed  freedom  and  equality  with  men. 
Only  with  the  rise  of  the  powerful  military  lords  in  the  Eighth  Cen- 
tury had  this  most  rigid,  most  persistent,  and  most  immovable  dis- 
crimination arisen. 

The  Ona  Daigaku,  the  feudal  moral  code,  counseled : 

A  woman  shall  get  up  early  in  the  morning  and  go  to  bed  late  in 
the  evening.  She  must  never  take  a  nap  in  the  daytime.  She  shall  be 
industrious  at  sewing,  weaving,  spinning,  and  embroidery.  She  shall 
not  take  much  tea  or  wine.  She  shall  not  visit  places  of  amusement, 
such  as  theaters  or  musicals.  She  must  never  get  angry — she  must 
bear  everything  and  always  be  careful  and  timid. 

The  resultant  upper-class  Japanese  lady,  exquisite  and  decorative, 
was  a  living  work  of  art  particularly  created  by  the  imagination  of 


330  MARGARET    SANGER 

numberless  generations  of  men.  My  original  conception  of  all  Jap- 
anese women  had  been  fashioned  out  of  romantic  fallacies — partly 
by  the  three  little  maids  from  school  who  simpered  through  the 
Mikado,  and  to  no  small  extent  by  the  gaudy  theatricalism  of  Mad- 
ama  Butterfly.  The  unrestrained  exoticism  of  Pierre  Loti  and  Laf- 
cadio  Hearn  had  strengthened  my  illusions,  as  had  also  the  color 
prints  that  had  aroused  so  much  enthusiasm  towards  the  end  of  the 
century. 

But  I  soon  found  the  cherry  blossom  fairyland  was  being  de- 
stroyed by  the  advent  of  machinery.  In  Yokohama  and  Kobe  you 
heard  factory  whistles  and  saw  tall  smokestacks,  new  shipyards,  and 
great  steel  cranes.  The  Industrial  Revolution,  accomplished  in  our 
Western  countries  gradually,  had  invaded  the  Island  Empire  with  an 
impact  and  a  shock  the  repercussions  of  which  were  still  evident.  It 
had  not  brought  freedom  to  the  women  whose  low  status  was  admira- 
bly suited  to  the  purpose  of  manufacturing  with  its  ever-increasing 
demand  for  cheap  and  unskilled  labor. 

Practically  half  the  female  population,  some  thirteen  millions,  were 
engaged  in  gainful  occupation  though  few  were  economically  inde- 
pendent. In  the  mill  districts  mothers  scolded  their  small  daughters  by 
threatening,  "I'll  sell  you  to  the  weavers."  These  kaiko,  or  "bought 
ones,"  served  as  apprentices  generally  from  three  to  five  years.  Mod- 
ern Japanese  industrialism  had  been  able  to  take  advantage  of  an 
ancient  Oriental  habit  of  thought  which  placed  slight  value  on  the  girl 
child. 

I  spent  half  a  day  as  the  guest  of  the  Kanegafuchi  plant,  the  largest 
cotton  mill  in  the  Empire  and  the  ideal  industrial  institution  which 
was  to  be  a  model  for  others,  comparing  favorably  with  one  of  our 
best.  But  Kanegafuchi  was  the  exception.  On  the  average,  employees 
in  other  mills  worked  a  twelve-hour  shift,  day  and  night,  amid  the 
deafening  roar  of  relentless  power  engines.  Dust  and  fine  particles 
of  fabric  fell  like  minute  snowflakes  upon  them.  Their  growth  was 
stunted,  their  resistance  to  infection  and  malignant  disease  broken 
down.  In  a  silk-spinning  mill  at  Nagoya  conditions  were  only  slightly 
better.  I  found  over  seven  hundred  girls,  some  no  more  than  ten 
years  of  age,  swiftly  twirling  off  the  slender  threads  from  the  co- 
coons and  catching  them  on  the  spindles.  They  were  pathetic,  gentle, 


THE   EAST   IS   BLOSSOMING  33 1 

homeless  little  things,  imprisoned  in  rooms  with  all  windows  closed 
to  keep  them  moist  and  hot.  A  quarter  of  their  seven  dollars  a  month 
wages  had  to  go  for  board. 

Only  by  the  graciousness  and  charity,  in  a  sense,  of  the  upper 
classes  were  the  household  servants  saved  from  institutions.  When 
the  Baroness,  for  example,  had  married,  some  of  them — cooks, 
maids,  and  nurses — had  stayed  with  her  parents,  some  had  gone  to 
another  sister,  some  had  come  to  her  and  been  set  to  training  the  new 
ones.  With  her  they  had  a  home  for  life.  This  system  accounted  in 
part,  at  least,  for  the  fact  there  were  no  beggars  or  mendicants  in 
Japan. 

Essentially  conservative,  essentially  the  product  of  a  strange  and 
scarcely  understood  past,  the  Japanese  woman  in  my  opinion  did  not 
possess  in  her  typical  psychology  any  strong  leanings  towards  rebel- 
lion. This  was  true  even  among  the  many  women  writers  on  papers 
and  magazines.  Those  who  interviewed  me  were  intelligent,  but  I 
was  constantly  amazed  at  their  ancient  and  domesticated  outlook. 

I  did  not  believe  the  woman  of  Japan  would  discard  her  beautiful 
costume  or  sacrifice  her  esthetic  sense  upon  the  altar  of  Occidental 
progress  and  materialism.  The  kimono  was  her  chrysalis.  Outwardly 
it  was  often  of  some  thick  serviceable  goods,  dull  brown  or  black, 
shot  through  with  threads  of  purple  or  blue.  Yet  underneath  were 
silks  of  the  brightest  and  most  flaming  hues,  formalized  for  each  par- 
ticular occasion.  Only  a  fleeting  glimpse  was  caught  of  these  as  she 
walked.  They  were  symbolic  of  her  present  position  in  society. 

From  the  lowest  serving  maid  to  the  finest  aristocrat,  certain  in- 
delible traits  immediately  impressed  themselves.  First  of  all  was  the 
low,  soft,  fluttering  voice,  like  art  and  music  combined.  They  were  too 
modestly  shy  to  talk  out  loud ;  you  could  scarcely  hear  them  in  a  small 
room.  Perhaps  one  reason  men  did  not  take  their  opinions  seriously 
was  because  they  did  not  speak  up.  I  heard  on  every  side  of  the  New 
Woman — but  I  never  saw  her.  Only  those  who  had  turned  Christian 
showed  any  signs  of  thinking  independently.  To  be  a  Christian 
seemed  to  imply  being  a  rebel  or  radical  of  some  kind.  They  told  me 
it  with  great  secret  pride. 

This  was  the  single  place  where  I  had  found  men  rather  than 
women  responding  to  the  potentialities  of  birth  control.  The  former 


332  MARGARET   SANGER 

wanted  to  learn  and  thereby  make  of  themselves  something  better. 
They  were  more  and  more  in  touch  with  the  ideas  of  .the  Western 
world,  and  were  broadening  themselves  through  travel.]  I  was  con- 
fident a  shifting  environment  was  going  to  extend  the  masculine  point 
of  view  and,  if  birth  control  could  be  proved  of  benefit  to  them,  they 
would  practice  it.  At  that  time  I  did  not  agree  that  East  and  West 
could  never  meet. 

Japan  was  undoubtedly  a  man's  country.  Wherever  we  went,  Grant 
was  Exhibit  A.  He  was  a  tall,  dark,  rather  gawky  youth,  with  ado- 
lescent manners  but  always  cheerful.  In  private  houses  butlers  and 
maids  paid  him  much  attention,  and,  in  hotels,  as  soon  as  we  entered 
the  dining  room  everybody,  because  he  was  a  man  child,  rushed  to 
anticipate  his  wishes,  to  see  that  he  was  made  comfortable.  I  straggled 
on  behind.  At  our  first  appearance  in  one  of  these,  the  little  girls  who 
were  being  trained  as  waitresses  and  whose  duty  it  was  to  bow  the 
guests  in  and  out  were  obviously  confused.  When  we  were  seated  at 
the  table  the  proprietor  apologized,  "You  must  excuse  them  because 
they  are  so  young,  and  they  have  their  minds  too  much  on  this  young 
gentleman." 

The  Yoshiwara,  to  which  some  missionaries  escorted  me,  was  cer- 
tainly an  integral  part  of  this  man's  world.  First  we  visited  the  un- 
licensed quarter,  winding  in  our  rickshas  among  alley-like  streets  lined 
with  small  houses.  The  dark  eyes  of  the  girls  peered  out  through  slits 
in  the  screen  walls.  Working  men  were  standing  in  the  muddy  road- 
ways, chattering,  scrutinizing  the  prices  which  were  posted  in  front 
like  restaurant  menus — so  much  per  hour,  so  much  per  night.  A  door 
opened  to  admit  a  visitor.  The  light  in  the  lower  story  vanished  and 
soon  another  twinkled  upstairs;  or  a  light  went  out  above  and  re- 
appeared below,  the  door  opened  again  and  a  figure  emerged.  Hun- 
dreds of  lights  behind  paper  windows  seemed  to  flicker  on  and  off 
constantly,  low  to  high,  high  to  low.  The  sordidness,  the  innumerable, 
shining  eyes  made  me  shiver  involuntarily. 

After  we  crossed  a  bridge  to  the  licensed  quarter  the  scene  changed 
immediately.  The  wide  thoroughfare,  with  a  row  of  trees  down  the 
center  festooned  with  electric  globes  like  a  midway,  was  clean  and 
inviting.  The  amply-built  houses  had  an  air  of  spaciousness  and  lux- 
ury, their  lanterns  sent  out  a  soft,  alluring  gleam,  and  carefully  culti- 


THE   EAST   IS    BLOSSOMING  333 

vated  gardens  produced  a  profusion  of  flowers  in  the  courtyards. 
This  part  of  the  Yoshiwara  appeared  a  delightful  place.  Its  attraction 
for  the  girls  was  obvious ;  they  would  rather  seek  a  livelihood  in  this 
fashion  than  in  the  dismal  factories.  Nor  was  it  odd  that  they 
should  find  more  romance  here  with  many  men  than  drudging  for 
one  all  their  days  as  the  "incompetents"  they  became  after  marriage 
under  the  domination  of  their  mothers-in-law. 

Through  portals  as  broad  as  driveways  the  patrons,  much  better 
dressed  than  those  in  the  unlicensed  quarter,  strolled  up  to  view  the 
photographs  of  the  inmates,  posted  like  those  in  the  lobby  of  a 
Broadway  theater.   In  some  frames  was  only  the  announcement, 

" just  arrived,  straight  from .  No  time  for  picture."  The 

clients  did  a  great  deal  of  "window  shopping."  Newcomers  from  the 
country  might  have  eight  or  nine  visitors  an  evening,  an  older  one 
but  two  or  three.  Many  of  the  girls  came  from  good  families,  fre- 
quently to  lift  their  fathers  or  brothers  out  of  debt.  They  sent  their 
earnings  back  and,  as  soon  as  they  had  accumulated  a  sufficiency, 
often  went  home,  married,  and  became  reputable  members  of  society. 

But  in  spite  of  the  Yoshiwara's  artificial  glamour,  the  crowd  of  men 
swarming  like  insects,  automatically  reacting  to  the  stimulus  of  in- 
stinct, was  unutterably  depressing. 

We  walked  home  at  midnight  through  the  sleeping  city,  mysterious 
and  quiet,  not  like  a  city  at  all — no  jumping  signs  or  illumination, 
but  more  like  a  nice,  low-ceilinged  room  trimmed  with  old,  brown- 
stained  oak,  and  only  here  and  there  a  glow. 

Nothing  else  in  my  travels  could  compare  with  that  month  in 
Tokyo.  The  language  was  strange  and  unfamiliar.  The  bells  in  the 
shafts  of  the  rickshas,  ringing  for  pedestrians  to  get  out  of  the  way, 
added  a  bizarre  note.  The  queer,  clicking  sound  of  the  wooden  geta 
was  different  although  somewhat  reminiscent  of  the  clop,  clop,  of  the 
Lancashire  wooden  shoes,  which  also  were  taken  off  at  the  door  and 
exchanged  for  slippers.  All  the  smells  and  the  sights  were  quite  new, 
even  the  signs  on  the  shops  were  unreadable.  In  Europe,  you  could 
usually  guess  from  some  root  word  what  kind  of  merchandise  was 
for  sale  within.  But  not  so  in  Japan.  One  day  I  stopped,  totally  puz- 
zled, to  inquire  the  whereabouts  of  a  store  the  address  of  which  had 
been  written  down  for  me.  I  showed  my  slip  of  paper  but  nobody 


334  MARGARET   SANGER 

there  could  help  me.  I  went  on.  Fully  three  minutes  later  the  pattering 
of  hurried  steps  behind  me  caused  me  to  turn.  Here  was  one  of  the 
clerks.  He  had  gone  to  the  trouble  of  looking  up  the  address  I  had 
asked  for  and  had  come  to  act  as  guide  to  make  sure  I  arrived. 

Throughout  Japan  the  custom  of  greeting  you  and  seeing  you  off 
was  touching,  and  gave  you  a  charming  remembrance  of  a  world 
where  friendships  were  worth  time  and  consideration.  When  a  Tokyo 
doctor  heard  I  was  leaving  Yokohama  eighteen  miles  away  at  eight 
o'clock  in  the  morning,  he  presented  himself  at  seven  to  bring  me  a 
box  of  choice  silk  handkerchiefs.  He  must  have  risen  at  five  to  do  so. 

From  the  window  of  the  train  for  Kyoto  the  faces  of  the  old  men 
trudging  along  the  road  looked  curiously  like  the  drawings  of  them. 
Everywhere  were  small  village  houses  and,  since  I  could  see  through 
from  front  to  rear,  I  wondered  where  the  peasants  and  their  numer- 
ous offspring  ate  and  slept. 

The  former  capital  was  fascinating.  The  shopkeepers  appeared  to 
esteem  their  visitors  more  highly  than  the  goods  they  had  to  sell, 
though  Kyoto  blue  and,  more  especially,  Kyoto  red  were  like  no 
other  colors  anywhere.  If  ever  you  see  the  latter,  buy  it  if  you  can, 
cherish  it  among  your  treasures,  save  it  for  your  children,  because  it 
is  the  most  beautiful  of  all  reds. 

It  was  now  April,  the  festival  of  spring  and  of  the  geishas,  the  jeal- 
ously guarded  and  chaperoned  entertainers,  singers,  players.  Every- 
body was  anticipating  the  flowering  of  the  cherry  trees,  and  with  the 
rest  of  Kyoto  I  went  to  see  the  enormous,  spreading,  willow  cherry, 
then  in  dazzling  white  blossom.  It  was  several  hundred  years  old, 
its  limbs  which  grew  out  and  drooped  towards  the  ground  were 
propped  up  with  care,  and  around  it  was  a  superbly  groomed  land- 
scape garden.  The  proprietors  of  hotels  near  such  trees  erected  un- 
pretentious tea  houses,  temporary  in  character,  where  hundreds  of 
people  kept  vigil.  You  could  not  help  having  respect  for  a  people 
whose  love  of  a  tree  brought  them  from  miles  away  and  who  waited 
day  and  night  throughout  the  duration  of  its  brief  blooming.  They 
paid  deference  to  it  as  they  did  to  a  great  artist  who  they  knew  could 
live  just  so  long. 

The  Japanese  designed  their  gardens  with  the  mood  of  the  individ- 
ual in  mind.  Some  were  filled  with  music,  water,  birds,  activity,  and 


THfe   EAST   IS   BLOSSOMING  335 

there  you  could  go  to  be  cheered  when  gloomy  and  despondent.  As 
soon  as  I  entered  the  Golden  Temple  grounds  its  influence  fell  upon 
me.  Everything  was  planned  for  thought  and  concentration.  No 
color,  no  noise,  no  rushing  of  water,  no  singing  birds  distracted  the 
attention.  Only  at  certain  hours  could  you  even  walk  about,  because 
movement  was  disturbing  to  meditation. 

Japanese  hospitality  reached  its  finest  flower  in  Kyoto,  and  the  su- 
preme day  of  entertainment  was  offered  by  a  generous  and  consid- 
erate doctor.  On  inviting  me  to  luncheon  he  said  he  would  call  with 
his  car  at  ten  in  the  morning.  This  seemed  a  bit  early,  but  it  appeared 
he  wanted  me  first  to  visit  the  Museum  of  Art.  Here  was  no  wander- 
ing through  miles  of  rooms  so  that  the  eye  was  wearied  and  no  last- 
ing impression  was  gathered.  Instead,  I  was  shown  only  the  one  most 
prized  specimen  of  paintings,  porcelains,  and  rare  screens.  After- 
wards, I  was  ushered  into  the  library  to  see  a  collection  of  precious 
manuscripts,  then  back  through  the  city  for  a  few  especially  renowned 
views,  and  finally  at  noon  to  the  doctor's  home.  His  wife  and  two 
daughters  greeted  me  and  I  was  introduced  to  the  guests.  Little  short- 
legged  trays  were  put  before  our  floor  cushions,  and  we  all  picked  up 
our  chopsticks.  I  envied  Grant  his  dexterity. 

After  the  trays  had  been  removed,  we  conversed  until  the  business 
men  had  to  return  to  their  offices.  But  a  fresh  group  of  guests  took 
their  places,  and  with  them  appeared  a  painter.  An  easel  was  set  up 
and  each  of  us  in  turn  made  a  single  brush  line  on  the  rice  paper — 
some  straight,  some  curved,  some  vertical,  some  horizontal,  criss- 
crossing each  other  in  every  direction.  Then  the  artist  took  his 
brush  and,  amid  exclamations  of  wonder  and  appreciation,  with  a 
few  expert  strokes  converted  the  melange  into  a  flower  pattern,  a  lake, 
or  a  mountain. 

An  hour  or  so  of  this  pleasure  and  the  easel  was  swished  away, 
the  painter  vanished  with  his  colors,  and  a  sculptor  was  substituted. 
We  were  now  supplied  with  dabs  of  clay  which  we  began  to  mold, 
the  sculptor  going  from  one  to  another  to  give  assistance.  If  you  were 
clever,  as  several  of  the  Japanese  were,  works  of  art  resulted.  I 
created  a  plain  jug  with  handle  and  lip,  was  taught  how  to  draw  a 
design  upon  it  and  how  to  paint  it.  Next  day  it  was  delivered  to  me, 
baked  and  glazed. 


336  MARGARET    SANGER 

Later  we  were  escorted  to  the  garden  where  we  congregated  be- 
neath an  open  tea  house  perched  high  on  a  rock.  There  the  younger 
daughter  tended  a  tiny- fire  and  brewed  a  ceremonial  tea — no  simple 
brew,  but  leaves  of  a  special  sort,  beaten  until  the  beverage  was  bright 
green.  When  we  had  enjoyed  this  delight  we  strolled  about,  admir- 
ing the  brooklets,  the  dwarf  pines,  the  shrubs,  the  iris  in  bloom. 

We  returned  to  the  house  to  find,  as  though  in  a  play,  that  the 
scenery  had  all  been  changed.  Different  screens  were  up,  fresh  flow- 
ers in  the  vases,  the  women  of  the  household  in  more  elaborate  cos- 
tumes, and  new  visitors  waiting.  Grant  and  I  alone  seemed  to  remain 
static. 

Now  on  the  immaculate  matted  floor  appeared  little  charcoal  stoves. 
The  evening  meal  was  served  by  the  mother  and  daughters  as  a 
marked  honor  to  their  guests.  This  time  I  was  brought  a  spoon  and 
fork;  apparently  I  had  not  been  very  deft  at  lunch  in  handling  my 
chopsticks.  After  dinner  came  yet  more  people  and  yet  more  conver- 
sation. I  had  been  talking  steadily  since  early  morning,  the  topic  be- 
ing selected  according  to  the  type  of  gathering.  In  the  evening  it  was 
population,  and  more  serious.  Sometimes  I  forgot  myself  and  spun 
out  involved  English  phrases,  then,  realizing  they  had  missed  fire, 
had  to  go  back  and  choose  key  words  more  easily  comprehended. 

This  continued  until  midnight  or  later.  At  last  we  had  to  excuse 
ourselves  and  ask  to  be  taken  home,  because  we  were  leaving  for 
Kobe  the  next  morning. 

The  doctor  and  his  wife,  accompanied  by  some  of  their  friends, 
were  at  our  hotel  betimes,  all  with  boxes  and  bon  voyages.  This  re- 
versal of  the  Occidental  custom  of  bestowing  presents  on  one's  host 
or  hostess  was  an  enchanting  way  of  conducting  the  amenities  of  life. 
They  wanted  no  return  for  their  hospitality.  I  had  arrived  in  Japan 
with  one  small  trunk  and  departed  with  five,  laden  with  gifts. 


Chapter  Twenty-seven 


ANCIENTS  OF  THE  EARTH 


•?»  •?»  •>»  ■?»  •;»  ■?»  ■)>?  ■?»  ■?»  ■?»  ■?»  ■?»  ?» g«-  ast  g<-  egg-  («■  go  gfr  g&  gg-  go  go  <«•  «c- 

NEW  and  different  places,  strange  countries,  peoples,  and  faces 
have  always  appealed  to  me.  I  did  not  have  to  be  in  London 
for  the  Fifth  International  Conference  until  July.  When  I  had  se- 
cured my  Chinese  visa  it  had  occurred  to  me  that  it  might  be  much 
better  to  go  on  around  the  world  than  retrace  my  steps. 

On  a  misty  day,  the  sun  not  bright  enough  to  clear  the  sky  com- 
pletely, we  sailed  from  Kobe  through  the  glorious  Inland  Sea,  threaded 
its  innumerable  islets,  like  the  Thousand  Islands  of  the  St.  Lawrence, 
only  more  delicate.  The  boat  was  small  and  out-of-date.  A  few  of  the 
English  had  chairs  but  Grant  and  I  wandered  between  crates  of  ducks, 
chickens,  and  livestock,  and  hundreds  of  Japanese  squatting  stolidly 
on  the  deck.  When  we  emerged  into  the  Yellow  Sea  it  became  very 
foggy  and  Grant  was  sick  to  his  toes.  I  put  on  a  brave  face  and  ate, 
though  with  long  teeth,  as  the  old  phrase  goes. 

We  landed  at  Fusan  one  evening.  Koreans  stood  about  in  their 
white  robes  which  fell  to  their  ankles,  pale  figures  outlined  against 
the  night  in  the  subdued  light  of  their  mysterious  paper  lanterns.  The 
next  morning  as  I  glanced  out  over  the  countryside  on  the  way  to 
Seoul  it  appeared  an  Oriental  desert,  odd  but  seemingly  familiar.  I 
felt  at  home  within  its  gates.  White-robed  coolies  smoking  long  thin 
pipes  with  minute  bowls  drove  oxen,  worked  in  the  fields.  They  had 
North  American  Indian  faces,  uncut,  ragged  hair,  reddish  skins,  and 

337 


338  MARGARET   SANGER 

curious,  wooden  structures  strapped  to  their  backs  to  carry  burdens  of 
any  kind — soil,  coal,  rocks. 

The  streets  of  Seoul  were  broad,  dimly  lit.  The  tall  Korean  men 
were  unique,  a  combination  of  priest,  patriarch,  and  grandee,  so 
formal  and  elegant  with  their  pointed  beards  a  trifle  larger  than  Van 
Dykes.  They  were  utterly  indifferent  to  other  people,  managing  to 
preserve  a  proud  and  aloof  air  in  spite  of  their  idiotic,  silly-looking 
hats,  dinky-crowned  and  wide-brimmed,  from  which  hung  strings  of 
amber  beads,  valuable  family  heirlooms. 

I  wondered  again  at  the  universal  white  costumes.  Everywhere  on 
the  banks  of  rivers  women  were  eternally  pounding  laundry;  you 
could  almost  feel  the  threads  parting  company  with  the  terrific  beat- 
ing— washing  with  stones  and  ironing  with  sticks. 

The  Korean  was  held  in  contempt  by  the  Japanese,  who  declared 
his  Government  had  built  schools,  roads,  railroads,  brought  cleanli- 
ness. It  was  true  that  the  houses  of  the  Koreans  were  not  so  well- 
kept,  their  habits  not  so  sanitary,  but  they  were  a  separate  race,  and 
they  accepted  scouring  and  scrubbing  and  sweeping  only  under  pres- 
sure. Hatred  and  rebellion  had  been  the  result  of  denying  them  their 
language  and  customs.  They  claimed  they  were  taxed  out  of  existence 
to  pay  for  such  luxuries,  and  nourished  antagonism  and  stubborn 
resistance  against  anything  Japanese.  They  maintained  further  that 
they  had  no  personal  liberty,  even  being  required  to  have  passports 
to  move  about  in  their  own  country. 

Koreans  also  resented  the  speeding  up  of  production  in  the  silk 
factories  through  the  exploitation  of  little  girls.  I  saw  them  there, 
shoulders  bent,  crouched  up  over  their  work,  hair  braided  down  their 
backs ;  they  were  almost  like  babies.  Their  job  was  to  put  their  tender, 
delicate  fingers  into  boiling  water  to  pull  out  the  silk  cocoons — the 
hands  of  older  people  were  not  sensitive  enough.  But  the  Japanese 
said  they  did  not  feel  the  pain. 

Even  though  I  had  a  large  luncheon  meeting  attended  by  foreign 
missionaries  and  officials,  Korea  was  but  a  stepping  stone  to  China. 
The  Celestial  Kingdom  had  an  indefinable  odor  of  its  own,  peculiar 
and  inimitable,  which  waxed  and  waned,  varying  with  each  city  and 
with  each  district  of  a  city.  It  might  be  a  compound  of  sauces,  onions, 


ANCIENTS   OF    THE    EARTH  339 

garlic,  incense,  opium,  and  charcoal,  but  who  has  ever  succeeded  in 
putting  an  odor  into  words  ?  It  marched  upon  you,  at  first  faintly  and 
indistinctly  like  a  distant  army,  and  then  closed  in  relentlessly,  associat- 
ing itself  with  memories,  making  you  gasp  in  protest  or  pleasure. 

At  Peking  I  wanted  to  change  into  fresh  clothes  all  the  time.  I  was 
haunted  by  dust — dust  in  my  body,  in  my  ears,  up  my  nose,  down 
my  throat,  between  my  teeth.  Some  of  the  streets  were  paved,  but  the 
dust  was  suffocating.  After  every  sight-seeing  sortie  I  bathed  and 
bathed  and  bathed  in  a  desperate  effort  to  rid  myself  of  the  diabolical 
dust. 

We  were  seven  days  viewing  palaces,  native  quarters,  night  life, 
sing-song  girls,  hospitals,  factories,  silk  mills.  We  heard  the  mechan- 
ical chanting  and  beating  of  drums  by  Buddhist  priests,  mostly  young 
boys  dressed  in  soiled  yellow  robes;  gazed  with  amazement  at  the 
funeral  processions — great  floats,  fantastic  gods,  food,  flowers,  pos- 
sessions; visited  old  Chinese  gardens  and  museums.  I  shopped  for 
jade  and  lapis  lazuli  and  was  well  cheated. 

Beggars,  many  of  them  crippled  and  on  crutches,  were  hobbling 
along  in  the  gutters  or  sitting  on  corners,  gaunt  and  filthy.  Children 
were  turning  handsprings,  doing  anything  to  attract  your  attention; 
they  edged  beside  you,  and  you  had  the  feeling  they  had  been  born 
with  palms  upward. 

You  could  not  set  foot  out  of  doors  without  being  besieged  by 
ricksha  boys  clothed  only  in  scant,  cotton  trousers  and  jackets,  al- 
ways short  at  ankles  and  wrists.  The  moment  you  stepped  in  they 
picked  up  the  shafts  of  their  little  vehicles  and  began  the  dogtrot 
journey.  I  could  not  become  accustomed  to  the  eager  running  of 
these  half-naked  creatures,  so  weak,  so  underfed,  so  much  less  able 
than  the  rest  of  us.  It  had  been  bad  enough  in  Japan,  but  there  you 
felt  the  runners  were  sturdy;  in  China  they  usually  were  suffering 
from  varicose  veins,  heart  disease,  and,  forever,  hunger.  Often,  as 
the  wind  blew  some  of  the  rags  and  tatters  aside,  I  saw  pock  marks 
and  wondered  how  close  we  were  to  the  manifold  diseases  of  the 
Orient. 

I  was  going  about  a  good  deal  and  it  worried  me  to  be  pulled 
around  by  a  human  being  so  emaciated.  One  morning  our  regular  boy 


340  MARGARET    SANGER 

was  missing.  Another  replaced  him,  cheery  and  smiling.  Three  days 
later  the  first  returned.  He  had  been  sick,  he  said ;  he  had  had  small- 
pox. The  scabs  had  not  yet  peeled  off. 

I  spoke  to  the  doorman  at  the  hotel,  whp  managed  the  rickshas. 
"This  boy  is  not  well  enough  to  work." 

"Oh,  yes,  he's  used  to  it.  He  feels  a  little  bad,  but  he's  all  right." 

Nevertheless,  I  sent  him  home  to  rest  up.  Nothing  save  famine  and 
pestilence  and  plague  seemed  to  give  the  Chinese  any  breathing  spell. 
It  was  said  the  average  ricksha  coolie  lasted  but  four  or  five  years — 
the  remainder  of  his  life  he  merely  subsisted.  I  was  submerged  in  a 
strange  despondency  and  questioned  "the  oldest  civilization  in  the 
world"  which  still,  after  so  many  thousand  years,  permitted  this  bar- 
barism. 

Grant  rode  a  donkey  when  we  went  to  the  Ming  tombs,  and  the 
guide  did  also.  I  was  carried  in  a  chair  for  miles  and  miles  through  an 
arid,  dusty  plain.  Two  coolies  held  the  lengthy  bamboo  poles  on  their 
shoulders  and  a  third  jogged  alongside  waiting  to  take  his  turn.  I 
felt  so  sorry  for^them  I  wanted  to  get  out  and  walk.  I  wished  I  could 
carry  myself.  All  the  way  these  poor,  starved  creatures  made  animal 
noises,  "Aah-huh,  aah-huh,"  nasal,  interminable,  varying  the  tone  but 
slightly ;  even  their  words  sounded  like  grunts  to  me. 

China  was  not  yet  past  the  story-telling  age,  as  you  saw  in  the 
theater,  where  someone  recited  the  news  from  the  stage ;  for  a  copper 
anybody  could  hear  what  was  going  on  in  the  world.  The  ancient 
classical  forms  of  the  Chinese  language  were  intelligible  to  scholars 
alone,  and  Dr.  Hu-Shih  had  been  instrumental  in  devising  a  literary 
vernacular  which  the  people  could  use.  This  philosopher  who  at  three 
years  old  had  been  familiar  with  eight  hundred  characters,  now  in 
1922,  while  only  in  his  late  twenties,  was  already  reputed  to  be  the 
initiator  of  the  Chinese  Renaissance.  He  asked  whether  I  would  speak 
to  the  students  of  the  Peking  National  University  and,  though  he 
was  to  act  as  chairman,  volunteered  also  to  interpret,  which  I  esteemed 
an  almost  unheard-of  honor.  His  outlook,  coinciding  with  mine,  rec- 
ognized what  birth  control  might  mean  for  civilization. 

Dr.  Tsai  Yuen-Pei,  the  Chancellor  of  the  University  and  a  leader 
of  the  anti-Christian  movement,  had  gathered  into  his  fold  the  most 
brilliant  students  of  Young  China,  all  of  them  bubbling  over  with 


ANCIENTS   OF   THE   EARTH  341 

interest  at  Western  ideas,  which  were  sweeping  the  globe.  A  great 
turmoil  was  going  on  in  their  lives  and  a  revolt  against  rigid  Chinese 
tradition. 

Due  to  the  translation  difficulties  I  had  encountered  in  Japan,  I 
had  decided  I  could  not  afford  to  speak  in  China  unless  I  went  over 
the  subject  first  with  my  interpreter  and  knew  he  understood  the 
spirit  as  well  as  the  words.  Therefore  I  showed  Dr.  Hu-Shih  my 
lecture  material  in  advance.  He  suggested,  "These  students  will  want 
to  know  everything  about  contraception  as  it  is  practiced."} 

"But  I've  never  given  that  except  at  medical  meetings." 

"China  is  different  from  the  West.  Here  you  may  discuss  contra- 
ception as  an  educational  fact  as  well  as  a  social  measure.  You  will  be 
listened  to  respectfully,  laughed  at  if  you  do  not,  and  will  surely  be 
asked  for  definite  information.  I  think  you  should  prepare  yourself 
for  this." 

It  was  not  simple  to  digress  from  principles  and  theories  and  go 
into  methods  that  needed  diagrams  and  technical  knowledge  to  se- 
cure understanding,  and  I  felt  diffident  about  following  his  advice. 
But  these  young  people,  responsive  and  alert,  received  my  first  prac- 
tical lecture  with  earnest  attention.  Dr.  Hu-Shih  translated  accurately 
and  quickly,  interjecting  amusing  stories  and  improving,  I  imagine, 
upon  my  own  words. 

Afterwards  he  and  I  were  escorted  across  the  campus  to  the  home 
of  Dr.  Tsai.  I  have  always  been  interested  in  foreign  foods.  I  like 
to  try  them  out,  and  have  brought  home  dozens  of  Hawaiian,  Chi- 
nese, Indian,  Japanese  recipes  which  can  be  made  at  home.  This 
dinner  was  an  Arabian  Nights  experience.  It  began  at  seven  and 
lasted  until  one  in  the  morning — bird's-nest  and  quail  egg  soup,  fried 
garoupa,  ducks'  tongues  and  snow  fungus,  roast  pheasant,  rice  and 
congee,  lotus  nuts  and  pastry,  sharks'  fins,  and  various  kinds  of  wine. 

There  must  have  been  well  over  thirty  guests  invited  for  the  eve- 
ning, among  them  an  American  woman,  Mrs.  Grover  Clark,  whose 
husband  was  on  the  faculty  of  the  University.  Some  of  the  students 
had  been  to  her  between  the  lecture  and  dinner  time  and  given  her 
the  transcribed  notes  which  they  had  taken  down  in  shorthand. 
Would  she  correct  them?  They  wanted  to  get  the  information  pub- 
lished. When  they  came  to  the  Chancellor's  home  to  call  for  them  so 


342  MARGARET   SANGER 

that  they  could  deliver  them  to  the  press,  I  could  see  at  a  glance  that 
this  was  not  at  all  what  I  desired  to  leave  behind  me;  my  spoken 
words  never  sound  adequate  or  complete  in  print.  Therefore,  I  sent 
a  boy  to  the  hotel  for  a  copy  of  the  old  stand-by,;  Family  Limitation. 
The  students  set  to  work  at  once  to  translate  it.  Mrs.  Clark  offered  to 
pay  the  expenses,  and  the  next  afternoon  five  thousand  copies  were 
ready  for  circulation. 

This  little  incident  was  significant  of  Young  China;  an  idea  to 
them  was  useless  if  only  in  the  head.  Their  motto  was  to  put  it  into 
concrete  reality. 

Symptomatic  also  of  new  China  was  the  abandonment  of  bound 
feet,  although  women  of  advanced  years  still  were  to  be  seen  leaning 
on  each  other  for  support  as  they  tottered  by.  Amahs  were  carrying 
nurselings  about  when  they  themselves  seemed  scarcely  able  to  stand 
up.  However,  I  was  glad  to  see  only  a  few  of  the  small  children  had 
these  lily  feet.  Fathers  realized  their  daughters  could  not  earn  a  liv- 
ing if  thus  deformed.  At  the  Peking  Union  Medical  College,  com- 
bining the  modern  equipment  of  the  Occident  with  the  artistry  and 
traditions  of  the  Orient,  no  girl  was  accepted  for  training  unless  her 
feet  were  normal. 

One  day  Dr.  Hu-Shih  asked  me  to  lunch  in  an  old  Manchu  restau- 
rant where  his  friends  were  accustomed  to  gather  and  ponder.  Many 
were  business  or  professional  men,  but  all,  with  their  little  beards  and 
intellectual  faces,  had  the  appearance  of  professors.  It  was  an  unusual 
combination  of  Wall  Street  and  university.  In  our  private  dining 
room  were  seven  English-speaking  Chinese  with  families  of  from 
four  to  nine  children.  Each  said  the  later  ones  had  not  been  wanted ; 
nevertheless  they  had  come. 

The  conversation  took  a  scientific  turn.  Since  man  had  through 
breeding  brought  about  such  changes  in  the  animal  and  vegetable 
kingdoms,  why  could  he  not  produce  a  class  of  human  beings  unable 
to  procreate?  Was  there  any  reason  why  the  particular  biological 
factors  that  made  the  mule  sterile  could  not  be  applied  further  ?  They 
discussed  the  interesting  possibility  of  creating  a  neuter  gender  such 
as  the  workers  in  a  beehive  or  ant  hill. 

The  implications  of  this  colloquy  formed  a  fascinating  climax  to 
our  sojourn  in  Peking.  Our  train  was  the  last  one  south  for  several 


ANCIENTS   OF   THE   EARTH  343 

days.  Soldiers  cluttered  the  landscape — not  alert  or  even  military- 
looking,  but  men  or  boys  put  into  uniform  and  told  how  to  act.  The 
Tuchuns  were  all  trying  to  "unite"  China,  each  in  his  own  way.  We 
read  in  the  papers  about  the  war  clouds  hanging  over  the  country, 
but  nobody  seemed  to  be  excited.  We  were  not  worried;  being  for- 
eigners, we  were  assured,  meant  protection. 

The  valley  of  the  Yangtze  Kiang  was  green  and  luxuriant ;  every 
inch  of  ground  was  being  utilized.  Even  space  which  should  have 
been  employed  for  roads  was  given  over  to  food  production,  and 
thousands  of  people  were  born,  lived,  and  died  in  boats  on  the  river. 
Some  water  buffalo  waded  in  the  mud  of  the  rice  fields,  some  horses 
worked  the  water  treadmills,  but  human  labor  predominated.  Over- 
population and  destitution  went  hand  in  hand.  In  this  land  which 
Marco  Polo  once  described  as  "a  pleasant  haven  of  silks,  spices,  and 
fine  manners,"  all  the  hypothetical  Malthusian  bogeys  had  come  true. 

Foreigners  at  the  International  and  French  Settlements  of  Shang- 
hai enjoyed  much  the  same  life  as  at  home.  Their  hotels  were  the 
same,  they  met  the  same  sort  of  people,  dressed  in  the  same  clothes, 
ate  the  same  meals ;  in  fact,  it  was  difficult  to  get  Chinese  food  unless 
you  knew  exactly  where  to  go.  They  came  in  droves,  herded  together, 
most  of  them  bored  to  death.  You  could  see  they  had  appropriated 
the  best  of  everything — the  houses  with  gardens  and  walls,  the  clean 
rickshas,  the  well-fed  boys,  the  prosperity.  The  Chinese,  in  their  own 
country,  lived  on  what  was  left,  which  was  practically  nothing.  They 
huddled  wistfully  on  the  fringes — horrible,  abject,  dirty. 

It  amazed  me  to  see  that  Americans,  French,  and  English  could  be 
so  near  and  yet  close  their  eyes  to  the  wretched,  degrading  conditions 
of  devastating  squalor  in  the  native  quarters.  Once  while  a  mis- 
sionary was  guiding  me  through  the  Chinese  City,  we  noted  a  crowd, 
children  included,  gathered  in  curiosity  around  a  leper  woman.  She 
was  on  the  ground,  sighing  and  breathing  heavily.  Nobody  offered  to 
help  her.  "Maybe  she's  dying,"  said  my  companion.  Just  then  the 
woman  gave  a  fearful  groan  and  took  a  baby  from  under  her  rags. 
She  knew  what  to  do,  manipulated  her  thighs  and  abdomen,  got  the 
afterbirth,  bit  the  cord  with  her  teeth,  put  the  baby  aside,  turned  over, 
and  rested.  No  trace  of  emotion  showed  on  the  faces  of  the  watchers. 

In  their  respective  countries  Europeans  would  have  made  an  effort 


344  MARGARET    SANGER 

to  improve  such  conditions.  But  here  they  seemed  to  have  lost  many 
of  their  former  standards  and  qualities  of  character  and  conscience. 
It  was  said  that  China,  psychologically  speaking,  swallowed  up  the 
morals  of  all  those  who  came  to  reside  there. 

One  young  American  secretary  related  to  me  the  joys  of  living 
in  this  section  of  the  Orient.  She  said  her  salary  was  far  smaller  than 
any  she  would  have  received  in  the  United  States,  but  her  comfort, 
on  the  other  hand,  far  exceeded  what  she  could  have  had  in  Boston 
at  double  her  present  wages.  Among  them  she  mentioned  her  ricksha 
boy,  who  cost  her  only  five  dollars  a  month,  out  of  which  he  had  to 
support  himself  and  his  enormous  family.  During  the  three  years  he 
had  been  working  for  her  she  had  never  raised  his  pay,  nor  did  she 
ever  expect  to.  He  dared  make  no  request,  because  in  China  it  was 
almost  impossible  to  get  a  job  by  one's  self.  When  a  servant  was  dis- 
missed he  faced  practical  starvation.  I  really  formed  a  bad  impression 
of  people  who  wanted  to  live  in  China  because  of  the  cheapness  of 
its  luxuries. 

The  Grand  Hotel  was  elegantly  appointed,  but  the  boys  who 
served  in  the  rooms  did  not  seem  friendly  in  their  hearts  towards  any 
foreigners.  Hostility  was  percolating  throughout  the  country.  Deep 
in  the  Chinese  mind  lay  the  memory  of  many  invasions,  of  the  Boxer 
Rebellion,  and  the  intrusion  of  business  men  and,  particularly,  mis- 
sionaries. 

In  Shanghai  the  American  missionaries  dominated  Chinese  educa- 
tion, such  as  it  was.  I  was  surprised  to  find  families  of  eight  or  ten 
children  the  rule  rather  than  the  exception  among  them.  Their  sal- 
aries were  raised  with  each  new  infant,  and  that  may  have  been  the 
reason.  Nevertheless,  there  were  many  who  wanted  birth  control  in- 
formation. When  they  learned  of  my  presence  they  called  on  the  tele- 
phone, sent  cards,  came  to  see  me.  But,  apparently  apprehensive  of 
criticism,  they  took  me  if  possible  into  a  secluded  room  or,  if  we  had 
to  meet  in  a  public  place,  backed  me  into  a  corner  and  stood  in  front 
to  conceal  the  fact  they  were  talking  with  me ;  they  acted  as  though 
they  were  turning  up  their  coat  collars  so  that  they  should  not  be 
recognized. 

The  only  method  of  family  limitation  known  to  the  poor  Chinese 
was  infanticide  of  girl  babies  by  suffocation  or  drowning.  The  mis- 


ANCIENTS    OF   THE    EARTH  345 

sionaries  were  co-operating  with  the  Government,  which  had  enacted 
a  law  forbidding  the  practice.  They  went  from  home  to  home  to  see 
whether  any  woman  were  pregnant.  If  one  were  obviously  so,  her 
name  was  jotted  down  in  a  notebook  for  a  call  soon  after  birth  was 
due.  At  the  same  time  both  father  and  mother  were  informed  of  the 
severe  penalty  they  would  incur  unless  the  baby  itself  or  a  doctor's 
certificate  of  death  from  natural  causes  were  produced.  After  two 
years'  work  ninety-five  percent  of  pregnant  mothers  showed  either 
their  babies  or  good  reasons  for  not  doing  so. 

But  the  Chinese  had  so  low  a  margin  of  subsistence  that,  if  the 
law  forbade  them  to  dispose  of  one  child,  another  was  starved  out. 
Sometimes  two  little  girls  had  to  be  sold  to  keep  one  boy  alive; 
in  dire  necessity  even  he  might  have  to  be  parted  with  to  some  sonless 
man  who  wanted  to  ensure  ancestor  worship.  Because  the  elder  girls 
could  begin  to  help  in  the  fields  or  become  servants  in  some  rich 
landowner's  household,  usually  it  was  the  three-  and  four-year-olds 
who  were  turned  over  to  brothels.  There  they  stayed  until  mature 
enough  to  be  set  to  working  out  their  indenture.  If  they  ever  tried 
unsuccessfully  to  find  freedom,  the  proprietors  might  beat  them  un- 
mercifully, sometimes  even  breaking  their  legs  so  that  they  could  not 
walk,  much  less  ever  run  away  again. 

When  infanticide  was  stopped,  the  corresponding  increase  in  sing- 
song girls  making  their  living  by  prostitution  was  almost  immediately 
evident.  \  It  was  estimated  Shanghai  had  a  hundred  thousand.  Many 
were  Eurasians,  the  results  of  unions  with  white  men  who  were  in 
Shanghai  on  small  salaries  as  representatives  of  foreign  business 
firms.  I  glimpsed  some  of  the  Chinese  women  who  had  been  bought 
as  housekeepers  and  mistresses  as  well  saying  good-by  at  the  train  to 
their  American  or  English  masters  summoned  home. 

Desiring  to  see  the  worst  of  the  city  I  went  to  the  prostitute  quar- 
ter in  company  with  Mr.  Blackstone,  a  missionary  from  the  Door  of 
Hope,  a  house  of  refuge  for  escaping  girls.  In  Shanghai,  as  in  Tokyo, 
we  found  in  the  Japanese  section  soft,  low  lights  and  an  undercurrent 
of  music  in  the  air.  The  inmates  were  fully  grown,  gay  and  hearty, 
the  interiors  were  immaculate  and  restrained  in  their  decoration,  the 
streets  were  swarming  with  sailors  who  apparently  preferred  this 
district  to  the  depressingly  dark  and  gloomy  Chinese  one  near  by. 


346  MARGARET   SANGER 

Here  and  there  the  Chinese  prostitutes  could  be  seen  through  the 
open  doorways,  heavily  rouged,  gowned  in  vivid  colors,  limned  like 
posters  against  the  meanness  of  the  background,  their  frail,  slight 
bodies  at  the  service  of  anyone  who  came.  Each  took  her  turn  upon  a 
stool  outside,  using  her  few  words  of  English  to  attract  the  sailor 
trade.  I  thought  I  would  never  recover  from  the  shock  of  seeing 
American  men  spending  their  evenings  at  such  places  with  what  were 
obviously  children. 

In  one  house  we  found  half  a  dozen  girls  looking  much  younger 
than  their  theoretical  fifteen  seated  on  hard  benches  around  a  room 
not  more  than  six  feet  by  nine.  A  little  one  holding  high  a  lamp  so 
that  we  should  not  trip  and  fall,  escorted  us  to  her  cubicle,  which 
had  only  a  bed  for  furniture.  A  chair  was  brought  in  for  me. 

Mr.  Blackstone  began  to  talk  to  her  in  her  own  dialect.  Why  had 
she  come? 

"Too  much  baby  home — no  chow."  She  said  she  was  sixteen  and 
had  been  there  since  she  was  twelve. 

"Why  she  can't  be  a  day  over  ten,"  I  expostulated. 

The  child  was  visibly  frightened,  aghast  at  her  own  loquacity.  We 
might  be  from  the  Government.  When  we  had  at  last  gained  her 
confidence,  however,  she  responded  eagerly  to  this  unusual  sympa- 
thetic contact,  talking  freely  about  herself — the  long  time  it  took  to 
pay  herself  out,  the  precariousness  and  physical  fatigue  of  her  call- 
ing ;  some  days  she  had  no  visitors,  but  when  a  ship  was  in  maybe  as 
many  as  ten  or  twelve  a  night.  She  seemed  as  old  as  the  ages  in  her 
knowledgeableness ;  "No  want  baby,"  she  told  us.  Yet  her  poor  little 
frame  had  the  immaturity  of  fruit  picked  green  and  left  to  shrivel. 

We  gave  her  money  and  left  in  spite  of  her  urgent  and  kind  invi- 
tation to  stay. 

All  sing-song  girls  were  not  necessarily  prostitutes;  most  hotels 
hired  them  to  entertain  guests.  Only  their  lips  were  made  up,  their 
faces  remaining  pale.  They  wore  flowers  in  their  hair  and  although 
not  so  soft-voiced  as  the  geisha  had  greater  independence.  Certainly 
their  weird,  shrill  songs  accompanied  by  the  tinkle  of  a  lute  were 
not  attractive  to  Western  ears. 

Echoes  of  my  visit  to  Japan  had  permeated  throughout  the  colony 
of  Japanese,  who  aimed  to  give  me  an  extra-cordial  welcome,  trying 


ANCIENTS    OF   THE   EARTH  347 

their  best  to  make  up  for  what  they  thought  had  been  an  unpleasant 
experience  in  their  country.  I  had  not  realized  the  power  of  ancient 
feudalism  over  the  Japanese  woman  until  I  met  her  away  from  home, 
where  she  blossomed  into  an  intelligent,  outspoken  human  being.  I 
noticed  she  expressed  herself  much  more  frankly  in  the  presence  of 
men,  but  underneath  the  conversation  I  often  sensed  a  propaganda 
which  had  resulted  in  deep  prejudice;  from  the  horrible  stories  you 
heard  of  the  savagery  of  the  Chinese  you  received  the  impression  all 
were  cannibals. 

Since  my  plans  to  include  China  in  my  itinerary  had  been  made  so 
late,  I  had  few  letters  of  introduction  there.  Consequently,  to  my  re- 
gret I  did  not  see  many  Chinese  women.  I  had  not  expected  to  do  much 
speaking  and  had  had  very  little  press  in  Peking.  Dr.  Hu-Shih,  how- 
ever, had  arranged  for  me  to  meet  about  fifteen  newspaper  men  and 
women  in  Shanghai.  We  sipped  our  tea,  nibbled  our  cakes,  and  then 
they  began  to  ask  questions,  taking  down  the  answers  with  the  utmost 
care.  They  wanted  to  set  forth  the  pros  and  cons  of  birth  control  in 
their  own  vernacular,  but  unfortunately  could  not  reach  the  illiterate 
masses.  They  asked  me  to  speak  at  the  Family  Reformation  Associa- 
tion, an  organization  which  was  under  missionary  auspices.  The  rules 
were  no  smoking,  no  drinking,  no  gambling.  Its  membership,  there- 
fore, remained  small. 

The  young  woman  who  interpreted  paragraph  by  paragraph  had 
just  returned  from  America,  but  did  not  prove  the  expert  her  traveling 
had  indicated.  The  chairman  said  I  was  to  give  both  theory  and  prac- 
tice, but  when  I  came  to  the  latter  my  translator's  courage  took  flight 
entirely.  She  whispered,  "I'll  get  a  doctor  to  say  that."  I  gave  up  and 
switched  to  something  simpler.  My  audience,  however,  knew  without 
her  assistance  what  I  had  been  trying  to  convey,  and  was  much  di- 
verted by  her  predicament. 

Of  all  lands  China  needed  knowledge  of  how  to  control  her  num- 
bers ;  the  incessant  fertility  of  her  millions  spread  like  a  plague.  Well- 
wishing  foreigners  who  had  gone  there  with  their  own  moral  codes  to 
save  her  babies  from  infanticide,  her  people  from  pestilence,  had 
actually  increased  her  problem.  To  contribute  to  famine  funds  and  the 
support  of  missions  was  like  trying  to  sweep  back  the  sea  with  a  broom. 

China  represented  the  final  act  in  an  international  tragedy  of  over- 


348  MARGARET   SANGER 

population,  seeming  to  prove  that  the  eminence  of  a  country  could  not 
be  measured  by  numbers  any  more  than  by  industrial  expansion,  large 
standing  armies,  or  invincible  navies.  If  its  sons  and  daughters  left  for 
the  generations  to  come  a  record  of  immortal  poetry,  art,  and  philoso- 
phy, then  it  was  a  great  nation  and  had  attained  the  only  immortality 
worth  striving  for.  But  China,  once  the  fountainhead  of  wisdom,  had 
been  brought  to  the  dust  by  superabundant  breeding. 

This  was  my  conclusion  when  at  last  we  were  back  again  in  the 
modern  age  on  the  American  ship  Silver  State  bound  for  Hong  Kong ; 
we  had  comfort,  hot  water,  baths,  heard  the  softness  of  the  little  chimes 
as  the  steward  went  through  the  corridors  announcing  meals.  It  was 
almost  with  a  sense  of  awe  that  I  asked  for  any  service.  After  being 
some  time  in  the  Orient  you  were  a  bit  embarrassed  by  having  an 
American  wait  on  you.  Soon,  however,  the  plumbers,  the  carpenters, 
the  painters  who  kept  the  vessel  trim,  the  sailors  who  swabbed  down 
the  decks  at  night,  gave  me  a  feeling  that  in  the  Western  countries  we 
had  gone  far  towards  dignifying  manual  labor. 


Chapter  Twenty-eight 


THE  WORLD  IS  MUCH  THE  SAME  EVERYWHERE 


-vv\  ,vv\  ,\v\  .x\\  ,vv\  ,\v\  .xv\  -\\\  .y.\  ,\v>  .vv\  ,x\\  .>\\  fff,  fffm  (/{.  fff,  fff.  ///.  ({(.  fff,  fff,  fff,  /<■/.  fft    f*t, 
V»V  Vw  ???  i/t   Hi   iii   Hi  iii   iii   iii   iii   iii  iii  »V*  Vix*  \Sv*  VxS.*  VSSr  Vxv*  Wvx'  \W  SSS?  VvV  Vxx   VS.V*  VfcV* 

A  FAVORITE  sales  promotion  method  of  astrologers  is  to  send 
partial  readings  to  people  whose  names  appear  in  the  papers,  in 
the  hope  of  piquing  their  curiosity  to  the  point  of  demanding  fuller 
details  regarding  their  future  lives  and  conduct.  From  time  to  time 
I  used  to  receive  these  and  paid  no  attention.  But  just  before  I  had 
sailed  from  California  a  friend  of  birth  control  had  sent  me  one  based 
upon  arrests  and  prison.  This  forecast  told  me  I  would  have  a  great 
deal  of  difficulty  in  starting,  and  that  on  a  certain  day  in  May  the 
same  signs  would  prevail  over  my  House  as  at  the  Town  Hall  Meeting 
— that  I  should,  therefore,  be  prepared  for  police  interference. 

While  packing  in  Shanghai  I  was  looking  through  my  briefcase 
and  happened  to  note  that  the  date  was  one  on  which  the  Silver  State 
would  still  be  at  sea ;  she  was  not  due  at  Hong  Kong  until  the  next  day. 
I  laughed  to  myself  and  said,  "Here's  where  I  prove  it  wrong."  As  it 
turned  out,  however,  the  ship  was  ahead  of  her  schedule  and  arrived 
in  Hong  Kong  twelve  hours  early. 

We  were  steaming  up  the  long  reach  towards  the  Kowloon  piers 
when,  to  my  utter  surprise,  the  immigration  officer  who  had  come  on 
board  handed  me  a  notice  instructing  me  to  visit  the  Chief  of  Police. 

"Is  this  a  special  invitation  for  me,  or  is  everybody  included?" 

"Only  for  you,  Madam,"  was  the  smiling  response. 

The  harbor  was  crowded  with  junks  and  fishing  boats.  Children  in 

349 


350  MARGARET   SANGER 

sampans  were  holding  out  nets  for  whatever  might  come  overside, 
fishing  up  each  bit  of  refuse  from  the  water.  Adjoining  ships  were 
being  coaled  by  women  coolies,  hundreds  of  them,  their  faces  strained 
and  bodies  stringy  as  though  made  up  entirely  of  tendons.  They  carried 
their  two  baskets  on  bamboo  poles  across  their  shoulders,  and  clam- 
bered like  ants  in  their  bare  feet  over  the  barges — not  singing  as  the 
men  coolies  of  the  North,  but  making  much  wallah-wallah — jabbering 
and  shouting. 

After  settling  Grant  in  a  hotel  I  took  a  chair  from  around  the  corner, 
because  police  headquarters  was  part  way  up  the  Peak,  and  rickshas 
could  not  negotiate  the  steep  ascent.  The  Chief  was  not  there.  I  in- 
quired whether  anything  were  wrong  with  my  passport.  Since  my 
British  visa  was  perfectly  correct,  they  said  there  must  be  some  mis- 
take ;  they  had  no  information  about  any  summons.  I  left  my  card. 

The  next  day  the  Chief  called  at  my  hotel  but  we  missed  each  other 
because  I  was  out  with  Grant  ordering  his  first  pair  of  long  trousers. 
When  I  returned  I  found  a  calling  card  and  another  request  to  come 
to  headquarters  that  afternoon.  Again  I  obeyed,  and  again  I  found 
no  Chief  and  no  message  for  me.  I  left  another  card  and  the  officials 
whom  I  had  seen  before  laughingly  reiterated  they  still  knew  of  no 
complaints. 

"Well,  I'm  going  tomorrow  morning.  If  the  Chief  wants  anything 
he'll  have  to  come  to  the  hotel."  He  never  did. 

Once  more  we  were  off,  this  time  on  a  British  liner.  The  sea  was 
smooth,  the  air  cool.  It  was  the  ideal  ocean  voyage  I  had  always  longed 
for.  I  was  relaxed  and  enervated  but  it  was  good  to  be  so.  I  had  nothing 
to  do  all  day  but  sit  in  the  glorious  breezes  on  deck  and  watch  the 
romping  children,  about  fifty  of  whom  were  on  board.  Many  had  been 
born  in  the  Orient  and  were  accompanying  "pater"  who  was  going 
home  on  leave.  One  little  boy  might  come  tearing  by  pursued  by  an- 
other, both  followed  by  anxious  Chinese  amahs,  thin,  dark,  slick- 
haired,  wearing  glossy,  black  trousers  and  coats  buttoned  down  the 
side.  They  seemed  in  constant  distress  over  the  antics  of  their  ener- 
getic charges. 

When  we  dropped  anchor  at  Singapore,  agitation  and  excitement 
were  again  manifest  among  the  inspectors  at  the  sight  of  my  passport. 
I  was  politely  asked  to  stand  by  while  they  consulted,  and  then  was 


THE   WORLD   IS   MUCH    THE   SAME   EVERYWHERE  35 1 

ushered  off  the  ship  to  an  upstairs  office  where  I  was  questioned  by  a 
pleasant  young  Englishman  as  to  my  intentions  in  going  to  India. 

"But  I'm  not  planning  to  stop  in  India." 

"Lectures  by  you  are  announced  in  Bombay  and  Calcutta." 

"This  is  the  first  I've  heard  of  it,"  I  assured  him.  "But  if  I  were  to 
go,  would  there  be  any  objection?" 

"That  would  depend  on  the  subject  of  your  lectures." 

"I'm  interested  in  only  one  subject." 

He  pressed  a  button.  Miraculously,  almost  like  a  scene  from  a  mys- 
tery play,  and  as  though  everything  had  been  rehearsed  in  advance,  an 
attendant  entered  and  placed  on  the  desk  a  large,  closely  typewritten 
paper. 

"Am  I  on  the  blacklist?" 

"Not  exactly,  but  you  said  you  were  interested  in  only  one  subject. 
Then  what  about  this  ?"  He  actually  read  me  from  that  document  de- 
tails of  a  small  reception  I  had  given  five  years  before  in  my  own 
apartment  in  New  York  for  Agnes  Smedley  after  her  release  on  bail. 

For  a  moment  I  was  speechless  with  amazement.  Then  I  ejaculated, 
"Why  shouldn't  I  be  interested  when  she  was  arrested  for  a  cause  that 
is  my  own?  Besides,  you  must  remember  the  charge  was  later  dis- 
missed." 

"Then  what  about  serving  on  the  Committee  for  the  Debs  Defence 
and  for  the  Political  Prisoners  Defence  ?"  He  mentioned  other  gather- 
ings I  had  attended  during  that  parlor  meeting  era,  such  as  when 
Mary  Knoblauch  had  had  Jim  Larkin  talk  on  Irish  Home  Rule  or 
Lajpat  Rai,  the  Indian  sociologist,  express  anti-British  tendencies. 
Wherever  my  name  had  appeared  on  the  stationery  of  any  committee 
he  had  it  on  his  record.  My  public  life  was  there  spread  out,  showing 
how  careful  was  British  espionage. 

I  brought  forth  from  my  arsenal  some  of  my  most  trusty  arguments, 
and  the  official  ultimately  agreed  that  if  the  vast  millions  of  India 
wanted  birth  control  he  was  all  for  my  going  there  and  would  visa  my 
passport.  However,  since  I  did  not  propose  to  include  it  in  my  trip  the 
discussion  was  purely  academic. 

Although  Singapore  when  we  reached  it  seemed  to  combine  so  many 
nationalities  that  it  was  like  Europe,  America,  and  the  Orient  all  mixed 
together,  Malays,  whose  land  it  once  had  been,  appeared  to  be  in  the 


352  MARGARET    SANGER 

minority  and  their  dialect  little  used.  I  could  not  escape  that  fatal  horo- 
scope, because  when  their  language  was  described  to  me  as  easy  and 
simple,  the  example  given  was  mata.  By  itself  it  meant  eye.  But,  mata 
mata,  in  addition  to  being  the  plural,  also  meant  policemen,  who  were 
the  eyes  of  the  government,  and  mata  mata  glap  meant  secret  eyes,' 
hence  detectives. 

How  Europeans  made  themselves  understood  in  Singapore  was  a 
wonder  to  me.  The  Chinese  ricksha  boys  apparently  comprehended  no 
tongue,  nor  knew  where  any  place  was.  You  stepped  into  a  ricksha  and 
pointed  to  where  you  thought  your  hotel  was,  praying  your  finger  was 
extended  in  the  right  direction.  If  you  did  not  point  he  ran  in  any 
direction  of  the  compass.  Even  so,  at  the  first  corner  he  was  inclined 
to  turn  into  a  more  shady  street.  After  a  while,  since  he  seemed  to  be 
arriving  nowhere,  you  spoke  to  him  sharply  and  he  pulled  up  to  a  traffic 
officer,  who  told  him  where  to  go.  Still  pointing  and  saying  "hotel" 
loudly,  you  eventually  were  delivered  in  front  of  the  door  by  a 
much  pleased  coolie,  grinning  from  ear  to  ear  at  his  own  cleverness. 
The  poor  fellows  were  so  cheerful  and  willing  that  you  could  not  help 
smiling,  too. 

The  weather  continued  balmy  to  Penang,  to  Ceylon,  to  Aden.  I  had 
been  dreading  the  heat  of  the  Red  Sea,  but  the  passage  was  surpris- 
ingly cool ;  the  facing  wind  was  really  enjoyable. 

At  Cairo,  where  we  made  a  longer  pause,  Grant  came  down  with 
dysentery  and  his  temperature  shot  to  a  hundred  and  four  degrees.  A 
Czechoslovakian  doctor  spent  three  nights  with  him  but  could  not 
reduce  the  fever.  Each  morning  when  I  rose  early  to  act  as  nurse,  I 
stumbled  over  about  six  natives,  our  own  guide  Ali  among  them,  kneel- 
ing on  prayer  rugs  in  front  of  his  door.  All  the  fortune  tellers  had  said 
a  death  was  pending  in  Shepheard's  Hotel  and  were  assuming  he  would 
be  the  victim.  The  fourth  day,  after  the  doctor  had  gone  to  his  office, 
I  ordered  a  dish  pan  full  of  ice  and  sponged  Grant  off  with  the  frosty 
water.  Two  hours  later  his  temperature  was  normal  and  he  began  to 
show  signs  of  recovering.  I  never  divulged  that  cold  bath  to  the  doctor. 

Ali  was  a  handsome,  dark-faced  Arab  with  large  luminous  eyes  and 
fine-cut  features  which  made  American  ones  seem  crude  and  weak  in 
comparison.  Wearing  his  long  black  robe  to  the  ground  and  topped 
by  a  red  fez,  he  used  to  come  to  his  duties  bearing  great  armfuls  of 


THE   WORLD   IS    MUCH    THE   SAME   EVERYWHERE  353 

flowers  from  his  mother.  We  held  lengthy  conversations.  "Have  you 
been  married  ?"  I  asked. 

"Yes,  five  times." 

"Weren't  any  of  them  happy  ?" 

He  began  enumerating.  The  first  one  had  been  young  and  inexperi- 
enced ;  she  had  not  been  properly  brought  up  and  did  not  know  her 
position  as  his  wife.  Although  she  had  cost  him  a  hundred  dollars,  he 
had  dispatched  her  to  her  parents  because  she  was  too  independent. 
Number  two  had  not  been  clean  and  had  been  too  old  for  his  mother  to 
train;  he  had  made  amicable  arrangements  with  her  father  for  her 
return,  and  had  lost  no  money  on  this  transaction.  Number  three  had 
been  sickly,  and  a  great  expense ;  she  also  had  gone  back.  Number  four 
had  not  loved  him ;  it  had  been  shortly  evident  her  heart  was  with  an- 
other man  and  the  agreement  had  been  broken  by  mutual  consent. 
Number  five,  the  latest,  he  had  sent  home  because  she  would  not  wait 
on  his  mother. 

"Why  should  she?" 

"Madam,  my  mother  carried  me  in  her  belly  for  nine  months.  Should 
I  have  a  wife  who  would  not  work  for  her  after  that  ?" 

He  was  now  casting  about  for  his  sixth. 

AH  haunted  our  footsteps  and,  in  order  to  collect  his  five  percent 
commission  on  all  our  purchases,  noted  every  place  we  went.  Merchants 
made  a  social  affair  of  their  customers'  calls.  You  went  to  a  perfume 
shop  in  the  Bazaar.  The  proprietor  said,  "Yes,"  sat  down,  and  handed 
you  a  gold-tipped,  aromatic  cigarette.  He  lighted  it  for  you,  took  out  a 
pile  of  letters  from  a  bag,  and  opened  them  for  your  inspection.  They 
were  testimonials  that  a  certain  gentleman  had  sent  similar  cigarettes 
to  Hartford,  Connecticut,  or  Pelham,  New  York.  Of  course,  you 
bought  some.  Then  a  cup  of  Persian  tea  was  brought  you,  and  you 
wanted  some  of  that.  At  last  you  recalled  that  you  had  come  for  attar 
of  roses.  By  this  time  he  had  sensed  your  "aura"  and  knew  what  you 
could  pay.  He  was  willing  humbly  to  mention  the  price. 

Our  tour  had  been  a  wonderful  experience  for  Grant.  He  had  studied 
the  Baedekers,  planned  our  trips  when  we  were  coming  to  a  new  city 
or  country,  looked  into  their  histories  and,  although  he  was  only  thir- 
teen, shown  a  highly  awake  and  intelligent  attitude  towards  every- 
thing we  had  seen. 


354  MARGARET    SANGER 

He  had  had  all  sorts  of  wares  hurled  at  him — ostrich  feathers,  fans, 
baskets,  sapphires,  scarabs.  He  was  satiated  with  strange  sights  and 
lore — Buddha's  Temple  of  the  Tooth  at  Kandy,  caravans  of  bullocks, 
the  English  club  at  tiny  Port  Swettenham  in  Malaya,  the  enormous 
porters  of  Egypt  who  picked  up  trunks  as  though  they  were  handbags, 
women  veiled  and  women  unveiled,  mosques,  the  Coptic  church  where 
Joseph  and  Mary  were  supposed  to  have  hidden  Jesus  from  Herod, 
the  date  trees  along  the  road  to  Memphis,  the  underground  Temple  of 
the  Bull,  the  remains  of  an  old  proud  world  at  Alexandria  where  Cleo- 
patra had  once  held  court,  the  primitive  ferry-raft  on  which  we  had 
crossed  the  Nile  to  see  the  place  where  Moses  had  been  found  in  the 
bullrushes,  the  wonderful  ride,  weird  and  lovely,  across  the  Sahara  to 
view  the  Pyramids  and  Sphinx.  On  his  way  to  Switzerland  he  had 
traveled  by  gondola  along  the  canals  of  Venice,  had  been  trailed 
through  the  art  galleries  of  Milan. 

After  a  few  weeks  at  Montreux  Grant  was  fully  recovered,  but  he 
was  now  homesick  for  the  first  time  since  we  had  left  New  York  eight 
months  before.  All  he  wanted  was  to  see  Tilden  play  in  the  tennis 
matches  at  Wimbledon,  and  then  go  home.  Because  I  did  not  think  he 
should  miss  the  reception  which  H.G.  was  giving,  I  had  him  fly  across 
the  Channel  to  London,  and  afterwards,  appreciating  his  longing  to  be 
among  his  own  age  and  kind,  I  shipped  him  off  on  the  maiden  voyage 
of  the  Majestic  to  a  camp  in  the  Poconos.  By  the  time  he  was  back  at 
Peddie  he  was  up  with  his  class,  his  mind  vastly  enriched,  and  able  to 
approach  his  studies  in  a  more  mature  manner.  I  have  never  regretted 
taking  him  with  me. 

I  myself  remained  in  London  for  the  Fifth  International  Neo- 
Malthusian  and  Birth  Control  Conference  to  be  held  July  11-14.  The 
inclusion  of  the  words  birth  control  was  a  definite  concession  on  the 
part  of  the  Neo-Malthusians  to  the  new  trend  of  thought.  It  was  a- 
delight  to  be  amid  conditions  where  tolerance  reigned  and  the  atmos- 
phere was  unblighted  by  legal  restrictions.  The  scientific  candor  of  the 
discussion  was  reported  in  the  newspapers  with  sincerity  and  sobriety. 

John  Maynard  Keynes,  who  had  become  famous  almost  overnight 
as  the  result  of  his  book,  The  Consequences  of  the  Peace,  presided  at 
one  of  the  afternoon  meetings.  Later,  I  had  lunch  with  him.  He  was 
tall  and  well-built,  with  clear,  cold,  blue  eyes,  a  fine  shapely  head,  brow, 


THE    WORLD    IS    MUCH    THE    SAME   EVERYWHERE  355 

and  face,  a  brilliant  bearing  and  brilliant  intellect.  I  was  impressed  by 
the  fact  he  did  not  smile.  Because  he  gave  each  question  of  yours  so 
much  consideration,  he  seemed  constantly  perplexed,  but  when  he  once 
started  to  talk  you  knew  he  had  already  put  aside  the  thing  as  having 
been  solved,  and  gone  on  in  advance.  You  were  probably  more  puzzled 
at  his  next  question  than  he  at  yours. 

In  the  two  years  that  elapsed  before  I  saw  Keynes  again  he  had 
married  Lydia  Lopokouva  of  the  Russian  Ballet.  He  had  become  an 
entirely  different  person — his  serious  mien  and  countenance  had  been 
changed  to  a  buoyant,  joyous  happiness.  His  knowledge  of  the  prob- 
lems of  money,  population,  and  economics  were  of  a  nature  far  above 
the  grasp  of  an  ordinary  intelligence,  yet  in  his  conversation  with  his 
wife  he  always  implied  she  knew  the  subject  as  thoroughly  as  he,  and 
answered  her  queries  as  though  their  minds  were  together.  He  was 
the  only  Englishman,  perhaps  the  only  man,  I  ever  knew  to  do  this. 

Unlike  Lydia  Lopokouva,  most  women  had  a  strenuous  battle  try- 
ing to  prove  themselves  equal  to  men ;  this  marriage  conflict  was  in- 
separable from  modern  life.  I  could  sense  it  frequently  when  coming  in 
contact  with  a  married  couple — on  her  part  the  years  of  rebellion,  and 
on  his  of  trying  to  put  her  down  as  a  weakling. 

Sentiment  has  extolled  the  young  love  which  promises  to  last 
through  eternity.  But  love  is  a  growth  mingled  with  a  succession  of 
experiences ;  it  is  as  foolish  to  promise  to  love  forever  as  to  promise 
to  live  forever. 

To  every  woman  there  comes  the  apprehension  that  marriage  may 
not  fulfill  her  highest  expectations  and  dreams.  If  in  the  heart  of  a 
girl  entering  this  covenant  for  the  first  time  there  are  doubts,  even  in 
the  slightest  degree,  they  are  doubled  and  trebled  in  their  intensity 
when  she  meditates  a  second  marriage. 

J.  Noah  H.  Slee,  whom  I  had  known  for  some  time,  was  what  the 
papers  called  "a  staid  pillar  of  finance."  He  was  South  African  born 
but  had  made  his  fortune  in  the  United  States.  In  customs  and  exteriors 
we  were  as  far  apart  as  the  poles ;  he  was  a  conservative  in  politics  and 
a  churchman,  whereas  I  voted  for  Norman  Thomas  and,  instead  of 
attending  orthodox  services,  preferred  to  go  to  the  opera. 

An  old-fashioned  type  of  man,  J.N.  yearned  to  protect  any  type  of 
woman  who  would  cling.  Complications,  therefore,  confronted  us.  I 


356  MARGARET   SANGER 

had  been  free  for  nearly  ten  years,  and,  for  as  long,  had  been  waging  a 
campaign  to  free  other  women.  I  was  startled  by  the  thought  of  join- 
ing my  life  to  that  of  one  who  objected  to  his  wife's  coming  home  alone 
in  a  taxi  at  night,  or  assumed  she  could  not  buy  her  own  railroad 
-  tickets  or  check  her  baggage.  Nevertheless,  despite  his  foibles,  he  was 
generous  in  wanting  me  to  continue  my  unfinished  work,  and  was 
undeterred  by  my  warning  that  he  would  always  have  to  be  kissing  me 
good-by  in  depots  or  waving  farewell  as  the  gangplank  went  up. 

I  had  to  consider  also  that  I  had  two  boys  to  be  educated,  and  that 
children  were  much  more  to  a  woman  than  to  a  man.  Yet  I  knew  he 
would  be  kind  and  understanding  with  them.  Furthermore,  he  had 
faith  both  in  individuals  and  in  humanity;  his  naive  appearance  of 
hardness  was  actually  not  borne  out  in  fact.  He  kept  his  promises  and 
hated  debts ;  we  attached  the  same  importance  to  the  spirit  of  integrity. 

Hundreds  of  people  who  scarcely  knew  me  were  delighted  when  the 
news  of  our  marriage  eventually  became  public.  Within  one  week 
letters  began  to  arrive  from  all  over  the  United  States  and  Canada.  One 
man  wrote  he  had  helped  me  get  up  a  meeting  at  San  Francisco  and 
now  needed  a  printing  press — would  I  mail  him  the  trifling  sum  of 
three  thousand  dollars  ?  Another  brought  to  mind  I  had  had  dinner  at 
his  home  when  lecturing  in  his  city,  and  now  that  he  had  painted 
enough  pictures  to  hold  an  exhibit,  would  I  finance  it?  Dozens  of 
ministers,  old  men,  old  ladies,  writers,  sculptors  wanted  me  to  set  them 
up  in  business,  musical  concert  work,  bookshops,  recalling  the  time 
they  had  taken  me  in  cars  to  meetings,  or  that  I  had  slept  in  their  beds. 
Parents  requested  me  to  send  their  children  to  schools,  to  Europe,  to 
sanatoriums — heaven  knows  what.  I  never  knew  people  could  need  so 
much.  I  longed  with  all  the  desire  in  me  to  make  out  a  check  for  every 
lack  and  wave  a  magic  wand  and  say,  "So  be  it." 

But  all  I  could  do  was  write  back  that  I  had  no  more  wealth  than 
before — my  husband's  was  his  own.  And  I  still  required  as  many 
contributions  to  birth  control  as  ever. 

I  had  not  wanted  the  worry  or  trouble  of  handling  money,  nor  do  I 
want  it  today.  The  things  I  valued  then  I  value  now,  not  for  what  they 
cost,  but  for  what  they  are.  To  me  dollars  and  cents  are  only  messen- 
gers to  do  my  bidding,  and  nothing  more.  To  use  them  properly  and 
get  results  is  my  responsibility. 


THE   WORLD   IS    MUCH    THE   SAME   EVERYWHERE  357 

When  I  asked  J.N.,  "Why  do  you  lock  things  up?"  he  replied,  "I 
always  do,  don't  you?" 

"Never.  I  haven't  anything  worth  locking  up." 

That  is  the  way  I  still  feel. 

It  seemed  so  final  when  again  I  started  a  home,  but  there  had  been 
a  gathering  loneliness  in  my  life — not  seeing  the  children  except  on 
holidays,  never  having  time  to  spend  with  old  friends  or  to  make  new 
ones,  and  with  such  rich  opportunities  constantly  offering  themselves. 
I  knew  very  well,  however,  what  sort  of  a  house  I  wanted — a  simple 
one,  something  like  Shelley's  in  Sussex. 

In  1923,  with  stones  gathered  from  the  fields  we  built  a  house  near  __ 
Fishkill,  New  York,  cradled  in  the  Dutchess  County  hills,  beside  a  little 
lake.  On  it  we  tried  out  swans,  but  they  did  not  work ;  although  they 
looked  picturesque,  they  were  too  messy.  So  we  changed  to  ducks  and 
stocked  the  water  with  bass.  I  planned  a  blue  garden  which  grew  up 
and  down  and  threw  itself  about  the  house  and  altered  with  the  sea- 
sons. Pepper,  a  cocker  spaniel  puppy  of  two  months,  came  the  first 
year  and  bounced  and  leaped  around  us  as  we  walked  through  the 
woods  or  rode  horseback  over  the  hills. 

Willow  Lake  was  only  sixty  miles  from  New  York.  I  could  make  out  " 
the  menus  for  a  week  ahead,  leave  directions  for  the  gardening,  be 
in  my  office  fairly  early  and  back  again  for  dinner  at  night.  Later,  for 
working  purposes,  we  built  a  studio  among  the  treetops  on  the  edge  of 
a  cliff  from  which  I  could  look  far  off  across  the  majestic  valley  of  the 
Hudson. 

Domesticity,  which  I  had  once  so  scorned,  had  its  charms  after  all.    - 


Chapter  Twenty-nine 


WHILE  THE  DOCTORS  CONSULT 


/A  FTER  coming  back  from  around  the  world  I  found  nothing  had 
jtxbeen  done  about  the  Tenth  Street  clinic,  which  I  had  expected  to 
be  in  operation.  No  members  of  the  Academy  of  Medicine  had  come 
forth  to  back  Dr.  de  Vilbiss,  and  I  had  paid  the  rent  for  the  last  twelve 
months  while  vainly  waiting. 

Now  I  gave  it  up  and  decided  to  start  afresh.  The  more  I  had 
studied,  the  more  clearly  I  had  recognized  that  it  was  not  possible  to 
advise  a  standard  contraceptive  for  all  women  any  more  than  it  was 
possible  to  prescribe  one  set  of  eyeglasses  for  all  conditions  of  sight. 
Only  upon  examination  and  careful  check-up  could  you  determine  the 
most  suitable  method.  No  detailed  statistics  had  ever  been  kept  except 
at  Brownsville,  and  those  case  histories  had  never  been  returned  to  me 
by  the  police.  I  wanted  to  collect  at  least  a  thousand  such  records  for  a 
scientific  survey  before  any  opposition  could  interfere  with  the  plan. 

Many  women  were  still  coming  to  me  personally  for  information 
at  104  Fifth  Avenue.  The  best  thing  to  do  was  have  a  woman  doctor 
right  there  to  take  care  of  them — a  quiet  way  to  begin.  It  was  hard 
to  locate  one  foot-loose  and  free;  I  could  have  no  shying  or  run- 
ning off  at  the  first  indication  of  trouble.  In  making  inquiries  I  heard 
of  Dr.  Dorothy  Bocker,  who  held  a  New  York  City  license  though  she 
was  at  present  in  the  Public  Health  Service  of  Georgia.  This  single, 
cordial,  and  enthusiastic  young  woman  knew  practically  nothing  about 
birth  control  technique,  but  was  willing  to  learn.  The  difficulty  was  that 
she  wanted  five  thousand  dollars  a  year. , 

358 


WHILE   THE   DOCTORS    CONSULT  359 

At  first  this  appeared  an  almost  unsurmountable  obstacle.  Here  was 
just  the  person  I  had  been  looking  for,  but  it  seemed  beyond  my  power 
to  raise  so  large  a  sum.  I  was  loaded  with  the  financial  weight  of  the 
Review  and  the  League.  That  organization  had  been  admitted  as  a 
membership  corporation  and  hence  could  not  secure  a  license  to  con- 
duct a  clinic,  which  in  New  York  was  synonymous  with  a  dispensary. 
No  clinic,  therefore,  could  be  included  in  its  budget;  it  would  remain 
a  department  of  the  League  by  courtesy  only,  being  actually  my  private 
undertaking.  Where  could  I  find  someone  to  donate  such  an  enormous 
amount? 

Then  I  remembered  Clinton  Chance,  a  young  manufacturer  of 
Birmingham,  who  had  prospered  exceedingly  both  before  and  during 
the  War.  He  and  his  wife,  Janet,  had  become  good  friends  of  mine 
during  my  1920  visit  to  England.  Having  felt  the  need  of  a  more 
sound  and  fundamental  outlet  for  his  riches  than  that  provided  by 
charity,  he  had  come  to  see  that  birth  control  information  was  far 
better  for  his  employees  than  a  dole  at  the  birth  of  every  new  baby.  He 
was  not  in  any  sense  a  professional  philanthropist,  but  only  wanted  to 
help  them  be  self-sufficient. 

Clinton  had  once  offered  me  money  to  set  the  birth  control  move- 
ment going  in  England,  but  I  had  refused  then  because  England 
had  enough  co-workers,  who  were  handling  the  situation  well,  and, 
furthermore,  my  place  was  in  the  United  States.  He  had  then  said 
to  me,  "I  won't  give  you  a  contribution  for  regular  current  expenses, 
but  if  ever  you  see  the  necessity  for  some  new  project  which  will  ad- 
vance the  general  good,  call  on  me."; 

Now  I  cabled  Clinton  at  length,  explaining  my  need.  He  promptly 
answered,  "Yes,  go  ahead,"  and  soon  arrived  an  anonymous  thousand 
pounds  to  cover  Dr.  Bocker's  salary  for  the  first  year.  I  made  out  a 
contract  for  two.  She  was  to  come  in  January,  1923,  and  we  were  to 
shoulder  the  risks  and  responsibilities  together. 

Even  to  choose  a  name  for  the  venture  was  not  easy.  I  had  been 
steadily  advertising  the  term  "clinic"  to  America  for  so  long  that  it 
had  become  familiar  and,  moreover,  to  poor  people  it  meant  that 
little  or  no  payment  was  required.  But  the  use  of  the  word  itself  was 
legally  impossible,  and  I  was  not  certain  that  the  same  might  not  be 
true  of  "center"  or  "bureau."  I  wanted  it  at  least  to  imply  the  things 


360  MARGARET   SANGER 

that  clinic  meant  as  I  had  publicized  it,  and  also  to  include  the  idea  of 
research. 

Finally,  one  of  the  doors  of  the  two  rooms  adjoining  the  League 
offices,  readily  accessible  to  me  and  to  the  women  who  came  for  advice, 
was  lettered,  Clinical  Research. 

It  was  still  a  clinic  in  my  mind,  though  frankly  an  experiment  be- 
cause I  was  not  even  sure  women  would  accept  the  methods  we  had 
to  offer  them.  We  started  immediately  keeping  the  records.  Dr.  Bocker 
wrote  down  the  history  of  the  case  on  a  large  card,  numbering  it  to 
correspond  with  a  smaller  one  containing  the  patient's  name  and  ad- 
dress. Each  applicant  she  suspected  of  a  bad  heart,  tuberculosis,  kidney 
trouble,  or  any  ailment  which  made  pregnancy  dangerous,  she  in- 
formed regarding  contraception  and  advised  medical  care  at  once. 

In  our  first  annual  report,  which  attracted  much  attention,  all  our 
cases  were  analyzed.  We  said,  "Here  is  the  proof — nine  hundred 
women  with  definite  statistics  concerning  their  ages,  physical  and 
mental  conditions,  and  economic  status." 

As  time  went  on  I  became  less  and  less  pleased  with  Dr.  Bocker's 
system.  She  had  no  follow-up  on  patients,  and  I  wished  the  clinic  to  be 
like  a  business  in  the  thoroughness  of  its  routine.  I  refused  to  approve 
methods  as  a  hundred  percent  reliable  until  there  had  been  not  merely 
one  but  three  checks  on  each  woman  who  had  been  to  the  clinic.  To 
begin  with,  she  was  to  return  two  or  three  days  after  her  initial  visit ; 
she  usually  did  that.  .But  if  she  did  not  come  back  inside  three  months, 
then  a  social  worker  in  our  own  employ  should  be  sent  to  call  on  her. 
Finally,  she  was  to  be  examined  once  a  year.  Dr.  Bocker  did  not  see 
eye  to  eye  with  me  that  this  was  the  only  way  to  put  the  work  on  a 
sound  scientific  basis  of  facts,  and  we  agreed  to  part  company  in  De- 
cember of  the  second  year. 

Dr.  Hannah  M.  Stone,  a  fine  young  woman  from  the  Lying-In 
Hospital,  volunteered  to  take  Dr.  Bocker's  place  without  salary.  Her 
gaze  was  clear  and  straight,  her  hair  was  black,  her  mouth  gentle  and 
sweet.  She  had  a  sympathetic  response  to  mothers  in  distress,  and  a 
broad  attitude  towards  life's  many  problems.  When  the  Lying-In 
Hospital  later  found  she  had  connected  herself  with  our  clinic,  it  gave 
her  a  choice  between  remaining  with  us  and  resigning  from  the  staff. 
She  resigned.  Her  courageous  stand  indicated  staunch  friendship  and 


WHILE    THE   DOCTORS    CONSULT  361 

the  disinterested  selflessness  essential  for  the  successful  operation  of 
the  clinic.  These  qualities  have  kept  her  with  us  all  this  time,  one  oi  the 
most  beloved  and  loyal  workers  that  one  could  ever  hope  for. 

The  clinic  could  serve  New  York,  but  its  practical  value  outside  was 
restricted,  and  I  was  always  seeking  some  way  of  remedying  this.  We 
took  the  preliminary  step  in  Illinois,  where  no  laws  existed  against 
clinics.  I  had  arranged  a  conference  in  Chicago  at  the  Drake  Hotel, 
October,  1923,  the  first  of  a  regional  series.  Mrs.  Benjamin  Carpenter 
and  Dr.  Rachelle  Yarros,  who  had  been  with  Jane  Addams  at  Hull 
House,  had  to  obtain  a  court  decision  before  Dr.  Herman  Bundesen, 
Commissioner  of  Health,  would  issue  a  license  for  the  second  clinic  in 
the  United  States. 

Meanwhile,  between  192 1  and  1926, 1  received  over  a  million  letters 
from  mothers  requesting  information.  From  1923  on  a  staff  of  three 
to  seven  was  constantly  busy  just  opening  and  answering  them.  Despite 
the  limitations  of  the  writers  and  their  lack  of  education,  they  revealed 
themselves  strangely  conscious  of  the  responsibilities  of  the  maternal 
function. 

Childbearing  is  hazardous,  even  when  carried  out  with  the  ad- 
vantages of  modern  hygiene  and  parental  care.  The  upper  middle 
classes  are  likely  to  assume  all  confinements  are  surrounded  by  the 
same  attention  given  the  births  of  their  own  babies.  They  do  not 
comprehend  it  is  still  possible  in  these  United  States  for  a  woman  to 
milk  six  cows  at  five  o'clock  in  the  morning  and  bring  a  baby  into  the 
world  at  nine.  The  terrific  hardships  of  the  farm  mother  are  not  in  the 
least  degree  lessened  by  maternity.  If  she  and  her  infant  survive,  it  is 
only  to  face  these  hardships  anew,  and  with  additional  complications. 

In  the  midst  of  an  era  of  science  and  fabulous  wealth  reaching  out 
for  enlightenment  to  advance  our  civilization,  with  millionaires  tossing 
their  fortunes  into  libraries  and  hospitals  and  laboratories  to  discover 
the  secrets  and  causes  of  life,  here  at  the  doorstep  of  everyone  was 
this  tragic,  scarcely  recognized  condition. 

It  was  an  easy  and  even  a  pleasant  task  to  reduce  human  problems  to 
numerical  figures  in  black  and  white  on  charts  and  graphs,  but  infi- 
nitely more  difficult  to  suggest  concrete  solutions.  The  reasoning  of 
learned  theologians  and  indefatigable  statisticians  seemed  academic 
and  anemically  intellectual  if  brought  face  to  face  with  the  actuality  of 


2$2  MARGARET   SANGER 

suffering.  When  they  confronted  me  with  arguments,  this  dim,  far-off 
chorus  of  pain  began  to  resound  anew  in  my  ears. 

Sensitive  women  of  our  clerical  staff  were  constantly  breaking  down 
in  health  under  the  nervous  depression  caused  by  the  fact  we  had  so 
little  knowledge  to  give.  One  who  went  to  Chicago  to  help  rehabilitate 
soldiers  wrote  me,  "I'm  feeling  much  better.  These  men  who  have  lost 
a  leg  or  arm  come  in,  apparently  disqualified  forever,  but  something  is 
being  done  about  them,  and  it  is  happy  work,  not  forlorn  like  yours." 

To  prove  that  the  story  could  be  told  by  the  mothers  themselves,  ten 
thousand  letters,  with  the  assistance  of  Mary  Boyd,  were  selected  and 
these  again  cut  to  five  hundred.  Eventually  this  historical  record  ap- 
peared in  book  form  as  Motherhood  in  Bondage. 

Whenever  I  am  discouraged  I  go  to  those  letters  as  to  a  wellspring 
which  sends  me  on  reheartened.  They  make  me  realize  with  increasing 
intensity  that  whoever  kindles  a  spark  of  hope  in  the  breast  of  another 
cannot  shirk  the  duty  of  keeping  it  alive. 

[  Woman  and  the  New  Race,  which  sold  at  first  for  two  dollars,  had 
a  distribution  of  two  hundred  and  fifty  thousand  copies,  and  it  made 
my  heart  ache  to  know  that  poor  women  who  could  ill  afford  it  were 
buying  the  book  and  not  finding  there  what  they  sought.  To  the  best  of 
my  ability  I  tried  to  supply  general  information,  but  the  only  way  of 
extending  genuine  aid  was  to  persuade  doctors  to  give  it  professionally.) 

By  a  happy  chance  I  met  Dr.  James  F.  Cooper,  tall,  blond,  distin- 
guished, a  fine  combination  of  missionary  and  physician,  who  left  no 
stone  unturned  when  a  patient  came  to  him,  but  devoted  his  whole  at- 
tention to  her — everything  in  her  life  was  important  to  him.  He  was 
recently  back  from  Fuchow,  China,  and  was  establishing  himself  in 
Boston  as  a  gynecologist.-^  Since  he  was  thoroughly  convinced  of  the 
vital  necessity  for  birth  control  and  could  talk  technically  to  his  pro- 
fession and  interpret  to  the  layman  as  well,  my  husband  pledged  his 
salary  and  expenses  for  two  years,  and  I  induced  him  to  associate 
himself  with  us  as  medical  director  to  go  forth  and  try  to  convince  the 
doctors  throughout  the  country  that  contraceptive  advice  would  save 
a  large  proportion  of  their  women  patients. 

In  January,  1925,  Dr.  Cooper  started  on  a  tour  which  covered  nearly 
all  the  states  in  the  Union.  In  the  course  of  the  two  years  he  delivered 
more  than  seven  hundred  lectures.  Occasionally  he  was  suspected  of 


WHILE   THE   DOCTORS   CONSULT  363 

ulterior  motives,  of  attempting  to  advertise  the  products  he  recom- 
mended, but  this  did  not  sway  him  from  his  persistence.  Where  he 
found  laxity  on  the  part  of  medical  organizations  he  spoke  to  lay  asso- 
ciations, which  applied  pressure  on  their  own  physicians,  demanding 
information.  As  a  result  of  this  trip,  doctors  really  began  to  awake 
to  the  problem  of  contraception,  and  when  it  was  ended  we  had  the 
names  of  some  twenty  thousand  from  Maine  to  California  who  had 
consented  to  instruct  patients  referred  to  them. 

At  this  point  began  the  huge  and  difficult  process  of  decentraliza- 
tion, so  that  the  New  York  office  need  no  longer  be  a  clearing  house. 
Each  request  which  lay  outside  the  pale  of  the  Cooper  influence  re- 
quired voluminous  correspondence.  One  letter,  enclosing  a  stamped, 
return-addressed  envelope,  was  mailed  to  the  woman,  asking  her  to 
furnish  us  the  name  of  her  doctor.  We  then  wrote  him  to  inquire 
whether  he  would  give  her  information,  and  offered  to  send  supplies 
if  she  could  not  afford  them.  If  he  said  yes,  we  notified  her  to  that 
effect;  if  he  said  no,  we  gave  some  other  doctor  in  her  vicinity  an 
opportunity  to  co-operate. 

We  were  immediately  confronted  with  the  situation  that  even  will- 
ing doctors  had  little  to  recommend.  Literally  thousands  of  women  re- 
ported that  such  ineffective  methods  had  been  tendered  them  they  had 
refused  to  pay.  We  ourselves  did  not  have  a  great  deal,  and  this  put 
us  in  a  weak  position;  the  acceptance  of  the  theory  was  ahea4  of  the 
means  of  practicing  it. 

The  jelly  I  had  found  in  Friedrichshaven  had  turned  out  to  be  too 
expensive,  because  it  was  made  with  a  chinosol  and  Irish  moss  base, 
and  the  price  of  the  former  was  prohibitive  in  preparing  it  for  poor 
women.  Dr.  Stone  and  Dr.  Cooper,  therefore,  devised  a  formula  for  a 
jelly  with  a  lactic  acid  and  glycerine  base,  which  was  within  our  means. 
Most  of  their  cases,  however,  were  sufficiently  grave  for  them  not  to 
feel  justified  in  using  it  alone  experimentally.  Consequently,  they  took 
the  precaution  of  having  a  double  safeguard  by  combining  the  chemical 
contraceptive  with  the  mechanical — jelly  with  pessary — which  proved 
ninety-eight  percent  efficacious. 

At  this  time  we  could  not  import  diaphragms  directly.  Although  I 
had  given  various  friends  going  to  Germany  and  England  the  mission 
of  bringing  them  in,  this  could  not  be  done  in  sufficient  quantity.;, 


364  MARGARET   SANGER 

Furthermore,  since  bootlegging  supplies  could  not  continue  indefi- 
nitely I  had  to  find  out  how  they  could  legally  be  made  here. 

Two  young  men  came  to  help  in  whatever  way  was  most  necessary. 
Herbert  Simonds,  who  had  been  in  advertising,  began  to  investigate 
the  possibility  that  some  recognized  rubber  company  should  make  our 
supplies.  When  one  and  all  were  fearful,  he  and  Guy  Moyston,  who  did 
some  publicity  for  us,  concluded  they  would  form  the  Holland-Rantos 
Company,  selling  only  to  physicians  or  on  prescription.  They  spent 
their  own  time  and  thousands  of  dollars  personally  on  research,  in  the 
end  perfecting  a  quality  of  rubber  that  could  stand  the  variations  of 
climate  in  the  United  States — hot  houses  and  cold  winters,  Florida 
dampness  and  Western  dryness. 

Meanwhile,  Julius  Schmid,  an  old  established  manufacturer,  had 
been  importing  from  his  own  concern  in  Germany  a  few  diaphragms, 
but  only  on  a  modest  scale  because  he  did  not  want  to  run  afoul  of  the 
Comstock  law.  As  soon  as  he  saw  a  potential  market  in  the  medical 
profession  he  fetched  from  the  Fatherland  several  families  who  had 
been  making  molds  there,  gave  them  places  to  live  in,  and  set  up  a  little 
center,  expanding  gradually  until  eventually  he  sold  more  contracep- 
tive supplies  than  any  firm  in  the  world. 

But  this  was  all  in  the  future. 

Soon  after  we  had  developed  an  organization  in  which  econo- 
mists, biologists,  and  other  scientists  could  be  articulate,  they  came 
into  the  movement.  Dr.  S.  Adolphus  Knopf,  a  tuberculosis  specialist, 
who  had  been  one  of  the  first  to  greet  me  when  I  came  out  of  jail,  never 
missed  an  opportunity  to  contribute  articles  to  medical  journals  and  to 
write  letters.  Professor  Edward  Alsworth  Ross's  books  continued  to 
popularize  the  sociological  and  economic  aspects.  Professor  E.  M. 
East  of  the  Bussy  Institute  of  Harvard  University  published  a  study 
of  population  titled  Mankind  at  the  Crossroads,  which  obtained  wide 
circulation.  His  one-time  pupil,  Dr.  Raymond  Pearl  of  Johns  Hopkins, 
was  carrying  on  the  same  work  showing  exactly  how  much  food  a  cer- 
tain number  of  acres  could  produce  at  what  cost.  Universities  generally 
began  to  show  an  interest;  students  wrote  asking  for  scientific  and 
historical  data  upon  which  to  base  their  theses. 

Young  people  in  colleges,  partly  because  their  ideas  were  not  yet 


WHILE   THE   DOCTORS   CONSULT  365 

biased,  offered  a  fallow  field  for  my  personal  campaign  of  education 
through  lecturing.  I  particularly  enjoyed  their  quickness  and  alertness 
and  their  interludes  of  comic  relief.  Nowhere  has  this  combination 
been  more  apparent  than  in  a  recent  visit  to  Colgate  University.  Four 
boys  met  me  at  the  station  and  somehow  or  other  we  all  squeezed  into 
an  automobile  which  shortly  deposited  me  at  the  home  of  one  of  the 
professors  for  tea  and  to  meet  the  faculty.  "This  is  house-party  night," 
he  told  me.  "The  girls  are  here,  and  most  of  the  boys  won't  get  to  bed 
until  daylight.  We'll  have  to  rout  them  out  to  hear  you  at  chapel  to- 
morrow." He  added  that  during  his  twelve  years  in  the  University  no 
woman  had  spoken  on  that  platform. 

"Have  they  prejudices  against  women  speakers  ?" 

"Oh,  no,  no.  There's  just  no  subject  a  woman  can  deal  with  better 
than  a  man." 

Well !  I  thought,  if  the  boys  will  all  have  been  out  to  parties  and 
I'm  the  first  woman  speaker,  here  is  a  challenge !  No  sociology  or  dull 
population  figures  for  them  from  me. 

The  next  morning,  determined  to  make  them  take  notice,  I  ran- 
sacked my  bag  for  my  smartest  dress,  adjusted  my  lipstick,  and  care- 
fully set  my  hat  at  an  angle.  Nevertheless,  I  was  a  bit  ill  at  ease.  My 
anxiety  was  not  allayed  when  Norman  Himes,  professor  of  sociology, 
said,  "Now,  Mrs.  Sanger,  we  probably  shan't  be  able  to  hear  you  in 
this  hall.  The  acoustics  are  very  bad.  They  can  hardly  hear  me  and  I 
have  a  big  voice." 

This  was  even  less  encouraging.  I  felt  I  was  likely  to  be  the  last  as 
well  as  the  first  woman  at  Colgate.  However,  I  replied  bravely,  "I 
can  speak  up  and  we  can  have  some  wave  if  they  can't  hear  me.  Any- 
how, there  probably  won't  be  many;  why  can't  they  be  moved  up 
front?" 

"Yes,  that's  what  we'd  better  do." 

We  went  in  to  find  the  chapel  jammed.  Some  of  the  students  were 
standing  in  the  door,  others  against  the  walls. 

Professor  Himes  introduced  me  at  the  top  of  his  lungs.  "Louder ! 
Louder !"  The  boys  waved  their  hands.  The  more  he  tried  to  make  him- 
self heard,  the  more  restless  they  became.  When  I  stood,  however,  they 
had  to  listen  if  they  were  to  hear  me.  There  was  no  waving,  no  calling. 


366  MARGARET    SANGER 

They  roared  with  laughter  and  clapped  at  everything  I  said.  This 
seemed  fine,  but  I  suspected  that  I  could  not  have  really  made  so  pro- 
found an  impression  as  to  deserve  so  much  applause. 

Someone  afterwards  commented  to  Professor  Himes,  "We've 
never  seen  the  boys  so  appreciative." 

"Oh,"  he  remarked,  "they  thought  if  they  could  keep  Mrs.  Sanger 
talking  long  enough  they  wouldn't  have  to  go  to  their  examinations." 

From  the  time  I  started  lecturing  in  19 16  I  have  appeared  in  many 
places — halls,  churches,  women's  clubs,  homes,  theaters.  I  have  had 
many  types  of  audiences — cotton  workers,  churchmen,  liberals,  Social- 
ists, scientists,  clubmen,  and  fashionable,  philanthropically  minded 
women. 

Once  in  Detroit  Mrs.  William  McGraw,  Sr.  had  organized  a  public 
meeting  and  luncheon  at  the  Statler  Hotel.  When  I  arrived  I  encoun- 
tered a  situation  which  might  well  have  embarrassed  a  less  doughty 
hostess.  She  had  invited  a  dozen  of  the  most  prominent  women  in  the 
city  to  sit  at  the  speaker's  table.  Mrs.  A.  had  asked,  "Will  Mrs.  B.  sit 
there  also?"  Mrs.  B.  had  inquired,  "Will  Mrs.  C.  be  next  to  me?" 
Each  wanted  social  support.  Mrs.  McGraw  had  blandly  refused  to 
tell  them ;  consequently  not  one  had  accepted.  Although  five  hundred 
came,  only  two  places  were  set  at  the  great  banquet  table  on  the  plat- 
form. Mrs.  McGraw  and  I  ate  in  solitary  splendor  with  nothing  but 
the  floral  decorations  for  company. 

All  the  world  over,  in  Penang  and  Skagway,  in  El  Paso  and  Hel- 
singfors,  I  have  found  women's  psychology  in  the  matter  of  child- 
bearing  essentially  the  same,  no  matter  what  the  class,  religion,  or 
economic  status.  Always  to  me  any  aroused  group  was  a  good  group, 
and  therefore  I  accepted  an  invitation  to  talk  to  the  women's  branch 
of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  at  Silver  Lake,  New  Jersey,  one  of  the  weirdest 
experiences  I  had  in  lecturing. 

My  letter  of  instruction  told  me  what  train  to  take,  to  walk  from 
the  station  two  blocks  straight  ahead,  then  two  to  the  left.  I  would  see 
a  sedan  parked  in  front  of  a  restaurant.  If  I  wished  I  could  have  ten 
minutes  for  a  cup  of  coffee  or  bite  to  eat,  because  no  supper  would  be 
served  later. 

I  obeyed  orders  implicitly,  walked  the  blocks,  saw  the  car,  found 
the  restaurant,  went  in  and  ordered  some  cocoa,  stayed  my  allotted  ten 


WHILE   THE   DOCTORS   CONSULT  367 

minutes,  then  approached  the  car  hesitatingly  and  spoke  to  the  driver. 
I  received  no  reply.  She  might  have  been  totally  deaf  as  far  as  I  was 
concerned.  Mustering  up  my  courage,  I  climbed  in  and  settled  back. 
Without  a  turn  of  the  head,  a  smile,  or  a  word  to  let  me  know  I  was 
right,  she  stepped  on  the  self-starter.  For  fifteen  minutes  we  wound 
around  the  streets.  It  must  have  been  towards  six  in  the  afternoon. 
We  took  this  lonely  lane  and  that  through  the  woods,  and  an  hour 
later  pulled  up  in  a  vacant  space  near  a  body  of  water  beside  a  large, 
unpainted,  barnish  building. 

My  driver  got  out,  talked  with  several  other  women,  then  said  to  me 
severely,  "Wait  here.  We  will  come  for  you."  She  disappeared.  More 
cars  buzzed  up  the  dusty  road  into  the  parking  place.  Occasionally  men 
dropped  wives  who  walked  hurriedly  and  silently  within.  This  went 
on  mystically  until  night  closed  down  and  I  was  alone  in  the  dark.  A 
few  gleams  came  through  chinks  in  the  window  curtains.  Even  though 
it  was  May,  I  grew  chillier  and  chillier. 

After  three  hours  I  was  summoned  at  last  and  entered  a  bright 
corridor  filled  with  wraps.  As  someone  came  out  of  the  hall  I  saw 
through  the  door  dim  figures  parading  with  banners  and  illuminated 
crosses.  I  waited  another  twenty  minutes.  It  was  warmer  and  I  did 
not  mind  so  much.  Eventually  the  lights  were  switched  on,  the  audi- 
ence seated  itself,  and  I  was  escorted  to  the  platform,  was  introduced, 
and  began  to  speak. 

Never  before  had  I  looked  into  a  sea  of  faces  like  these.  I  was  sure 
that  if  I  uttered  one  word,  such  as  abortion,  outside  the  usual  vocabu- 
lary of  these  women  they  would  go  off  into  hysteria.  And  so  my  ad- 
dress that  night  had  to  be  in  the  most  elementary  terms,  as  though 
I  were  trying  to  make  children  understand. 

In  the  end,  through  simple  illustrations  I  believed  I  had  accom- 
plished my  purpose.  A  dozen  invitations  to  speak  to  similar  groups 
were  proffered.  The  conversation  went  on  and  on,  and  when  we  were 
finally  through  it  was  too  late  to  return  to  New  York.  Under  a  curfew 
law  everything  in  Silver  Lake  shut  at  nine  o'clock.  I  could  not  even 
send  a  telegram  to  let  my  family  know  whether  I  had  been  thrown  in 
the  river  or  was  being  held  incommunicado.  It  was  nearly  one  before  I 
reached  Trenton,  and  I  spent  the  night  in  a  hotel. 

In  Brattleboro,  Vermont,  my  audience  was  made  up  of  another  slice 


368  MARGARET    SANGER 

of  America — honest,  strong,  capable  housewives  who  made  their  pies 
and  doughnuts  and  preserves  before  they  came.  When  I  had  finished 
there  was  not  a  murmur  of  commendation  from  the  three  hundred. 
The  minister  of  the  church  where  the  meeting  was  held  had  asked  me 
to  stand  beside  him  to  say  how-do-you-do  when  they  came  out.  They 
just  went  by,  eyes  straight  ahead. 

On  the  telephone  afterwards,  however,  each  was  asking  what  the 
other  thought.  The  cases  I  had  cited  were  typical  of  their  own  com- 
munity. "Was  she  referring  to  this  one  or  that  one?"  they  queried. 

I  returned  two  days  later  to  lunch  with  a  doctor  and  four  or  five 
social  workers,  and  was  surprised  to  hear,  "The  women  want  to  start 
a  clinic." 

"But  there  wasn't  any  enthusiasm  when  I  suggested  it  the  other 
morning." 

"The  people  around  here  don't  express  much  openly.  They  were 
moved  to  quietness.  But  just  the  same  they're  starting  a  clinic  in 
Brattleboro." 


Chapter  Thirty 


NOW  IS  THE  TIME  FOR  CONVERSE 


SIDE  by  side  with  the  clinic  and  education  another  project  had  been 
stirring  for  some  time  in  my  mind.  Internationalism  was  in  the 
air,  and  I  wanted  that  outlook  brought  into  the  movement  in  the 
United  States.  To  this  end  I  made  plans  for  the  Sixth  International 
Malthusian  and  Birth  Control  Conference,  to  be  held  in  New  York  in 
March,  1925. 

In  the  summer  of  1924  I  called  a  Conference  Committee  meeting 
of  the  League.  That  is,  in  addition  to  the  regular  Board  members, 
other  supporters  were  invited  to  attend.  As  soon  as  the  matter  was 
brought  up  they  expostulated,  "You  still  have  to  ask  for  money  to  run 
the  Review.  How  can  you  pay  the  fares  of  the  delegates  and  furnish 
them  with  hospitality  ?  Do  you  know  how  much  it  will  cost  ?" 

Since  I  wished  to  have  the  Conference  important  enough  to  make  its 
mark  I  replied  promptly,  "Not  less  than  twenty-five  thousand  dollars." 

"Have  you  thought  of  how  you  are  going  to  finance  it?" 

"Certainly  I  have."  I  was  certain  that  the  interest  of  many  of  our 
contributors  extended  beyond  the  magazine,  and  that  they  would  see 
we  now  had  a  broader  field  of  activity.  They  had  given  before  and 
would  give  again.  I  knew  money  would  come  in. 

Any  five  of  the  outside  women  present  could  have  underwritten  the 
Conference,  but  they  objected  that  funds  were  needed  for  other 
work.  One  by  one  they  left  in  a  hurry;  the  inevitable  appointments 
were  waiting  for  them.  Their  advice  to  the  Board  was,  no  Conference 
— and  the  wealthy  members  of  the  Board  concurred. 

369 


370  MARGARET    SANGER 

Nevertheless,  I  went  ahead  with  the  details  of  securing  backers. 
Even  the  letterhead  on  our  stationery  was  significant.  You  could  tell 
such  a  lot  about  an  organization — quality,  standards,  tone — from  the 
names,  often  more  informative  than  the  body  of  the  letter.  My  inten- 
tion was  to  make  people  stand  in  public  for  what  they  believed  in 
private,  and  at  least  our  list  of  sponsors  was  impressive  enough — a 
brilliant  and  distinguished  array. 

The  success  of  any  conference  was  determined  in  great  measure  by 
the  caliber  of  the  men  who  took  part  in  it.  Results  depended  first  upon 
the  concept  animating  it,  and  second,  as  had  been  proved  before,  on  the 
presence  of  an  eminent  figure  to  ornament  the  assemblage.  I  decided 
to  see  whether  I  could  induce  Lord  Dawson  to  be  our  main  speaker, 
and,  hoping  that  personal  persuasion  might  be  more  efficacious  than 
written,  sailed  for  England  in  September. 

Havelock  came  up  from  Margate  to  greet  me,  as  usual  far  removed 
from  the  hurly-burly  of  the  world,  aloof  from  the  conflict  of  ideas 
which  meant  so  much  to  me.  Yet  to  talk  with  him  again  was  to  re- 
turn to  the  melee  with  renewed  inspiration.  I  managed  to  crowd  in  a 
motor  trip  to  Oxford,  lunch  at  the  Mitre,  a  walk  through  Brazenose 
and  King's,  and  a  drive  back  through  Buckinghamshire,  where  the 
beeches  were  changing  to  bronze  and  russet.  I  felt  a  regretful  pang  that 
so  little  of  my  life  could  be  lived  in  England. 

Unfortunately  for  my  purposes  Lord  Dawson  was  away  shooting  in 
the  North.  With  some  temerity  I  dwelt  upon  the  possibility  of  Lord 
Buckmaster,  the  former  Stanley  Owen,  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer 
in  the  Asquith  Coalition  of  191 5,  who  had  become  one  of  the  most 
finished  orators  in  the  House  of  Lords.  He  had  just  returned  from 
Scotland  and  telephoned  me  to  suggest  we  exchange  views.  He  was 
about  to  present  a  resolution  that,  under  the  auspices  of  the  Ministry 
of  Health,  restrictions  on  birth  control  instruction  be  removed  for 
married  women  who  attended  welfare  centers.  He  was  gathering 
practical  information  from  people  who  had  had  practical  experience, 
and  wanted  to  know  how  methods  in  the  United  States  differed  from 
those  in  England  and,  particularly,  verification  of  their  harmlessness. 

When  he  came  to  my  hotel  one  afternoon,  I  did  not  take  time  to 
mention  the  Conference,  because  H.G.,  knowing  the  value  of  proper 
introductions,  had  arranged  one  of  his  most  brilliant  dinners  for  that 


NOW   IS   THE   TIME   FOR    CONVERSE  37 1 

very  evening,  or  rather  he  had  proposed  it  and  Jane  had  arranged  it. 
For  H.G.  to  entertain  in  behalf  of  a  cause  set  the  seal  of  approval  on 
it.  Jane  had  invited  literary  luminaries  and  their  wives :  George 
Bernard  Shaw,  Arnold  Bennett,  Sir  Arbuthnot  Lane,  Professor  E.  W. 
MacBride  of  the  Eugenics  Education  Society,  Walter  Salter  of  the 
League  of  Nations,  and  Lord  Buckmaster. 

It  had  been  my  experience  that  personages  gave  little  of  themselves 
on  formal  occasions.  So  many  people  expected  these  lions  to  roar 
bravely,  forgetting  that  they  preferred-  to  save  their  sparkling  sal- 
lies for  the  pages  of  their  books.  Moreover,  when  the  English  came 
together  for  an  evening  they  liked  to  have  it  light  and  amusing.  I  had 
received  much  from  the  books  of  Shaw,  who  had  advanced  civilization 
by  breaking  down  barriers  of  all  sorts,  now  almost  nothing  from  him 
personally,  although  he  was  very  diverting,  with  funny  quips  upon 
life  and  America  and  birth  control. 

I  had  by  design  been  seated  next  to  Lord  Buckmaster,  and  after  the 
meal  had  been  in  progress  for  perhaps  half  an  hour,  H.G.  leaned  over 
and  whispered  to  me,  "Have  you  got  him  ?" 

"I  haven't  started  yet." 

"You're  no  true  American.  You  ought  to  work  faster.  You're 
missing  out."  Whereupon  he  focused  his  own  attention  on  Lord  Buck- 
master,  who,  in  answer  to  his  direct  query,  regretted  that  the  date 
conflicted  with  the  opening  of  Parliament. 

Before  I  could  realize  it  the  time  came  when  I  was  due  to  sail 
from  Southampton.  Lord  Dawson  had  just  returned  and  could  see 
me  at  three  that  afternoon.  Promptly  on  the  hour  his  secretary  ushered 
me  into  his  library  at  Wimpole  Street.  A  fire  was  burning  cheerfully  in 
the  grate,  a  gentleman,  traditionally  tall  and  handsome,  was  sitting 
leisurely  on  the  sofa  as  though  my  boat  train  did  not  leave  Waterloo 
Station  at  four-thirty,  and  endless  days  remained  in  which  to  talk 
about  the  interesting  subject  of  birth  control.  He  was  a  grand  seigneur 
such  as  you  rarely  encountered  in  your  travels,  having  a  mind  that 
could  understand  and  meet  any  discussion  with  knowledge,  facts,  and 
comprehension.  The  approach,  the  surroundings,  his  courtesy,  charm 
of  manner,  and  poise,  proved  him  a  great  English  aristocrat.  He  asked 
me  about  the  attitude  of  the  medical  profession  in  the  United  States, 
desirous  of  knowing  who  had  identified  themselves  with  it.  I  recited 


372  MARGARET   SANGER 

my  past  efforts  to  enlist  the  support  of  the  leading  physicians.  The 
minutes  sped  relentlessly  away ;  I  had  to  leave,  and  barely  caught  my 
train.  Having  admired  him  so  long  from  afar,  I  was  glad  to  have  had 
this  brief  contact,  even  though  he  was  unable  to  attend  the  Confer- 
ence. 

I  was  back  in  New  York  by  the  end  of  October,  and  soon  came  a 
letter  from  Shaw  cheering  me  with  his  point  of  view  : 

Birth  control  should  be  advocated  for  its  own  sake,  on  the  general 
ground  that  the  difference  between  voluntary,  irrational,  uncontrolled 
activity  is  the  difference  between  an  amoeba  and  a  man;  and  if  we 
really  believe  that  the  more  highly  evolved  creature  is  the  better  we 
may  as  well  act  accordingly.  As  the  amoeba  does  not  understand  birth 
control,  it  cannot  abuse  it,  and  therefore  its  state  may  be  the  more 
gracious ;  but  it  is  also  true  that  as  the  amoeba  cannot  write,  it  can- 
not commit  forgery :  yet  we  teach  everybody  to  write  unhesitatingly, 
knowing  that  if  we  refuse  to  teach  anything  that  could  be  abused  we 
should  never  teach  anything  at  all. 

Interminable  correspondence  began  immediately  with  adherents  and, 
in  many  distant  lands,  possible  delegates.  I  sent  out  telegrams  to  the 
former  and  as  fast  as  money  arrived  dispatched  it  to  the  latter  for  their 
passage  over,  though  I  did  not  yet  have  enough  to  get  them  home  again. 
Languages  and  interpreters  then  had  to  be  arranged  for ;  in  Europe 
that  was  difficult  enough,  but  here  it  was  more  than  perplexing.  Worst 
of  all  was  the  eternal  barrier  of  our  laws.  Topics  that  could  be  freely 
discussed  in  London  were  forbidden  in  the  United  States,  and  we 
could  not  afford  to  have  the  dignity  of  the  occasion  marred  by  another 
Town  Hall  episode.  I  had  to  tell  delegates  what  their  papers  were  to  be 
about,  and,  when  it  was  necessary  to  cut  out  a  reference  to  contracep- 
tives, had  to  apologize  and  explain  why. 

I  quickly  found  that  visitors  from  seventeen  countries  could  pro- 
duce more  problems  than  statistics  and  theories  proved.  The  committee 
sent  to  meet  Dr.  G.  O.  Lapouge,  a  French  eugenist,  after  vainly 
searching  through  the  cabins  on  the  boat,  went  back  to  the  pier  whence 
all  had  fled  save  one  inconspicuous,  desolate  man  sitting  on  top  of  his 
luggage,  reading,  waiting  patiently  for  someone  to  come  for  him — 
so  unimportant-looking  that  no  one  would  have  suspected  him  of  being 
a  renowned  scientist.  The  next  morning  the  Hotel  McAlpin,  where  the 


NOW    IS   THE   TIME    FOR    CONVERSE  373 

convention  was  to  be  held,  called  me  up  to  report  that  Dr.  Lapouge  had 
been  severely  burned,  and  an  interpreter  was  needed.  Dr.  Drysdale 
hurried  off  to  find  the  poor  little  man  of  seventy  in  excruciating  pain 
but  carrying  on  a  dissertation,  highly  amusing,  about  the  hazards  of 
America's  much-advertised  plumbing.  Without  understanding  how 
to  regulaie  the  shower  he  had  stood  under  it  and  turned  on  the  hot 
water.  The  skin  fairly  peeled  off  his  chest.  Nevertheless,  bandaged 
and  oiled,  he  undauntedly  attended  all  the  sessions. 

The  opening  night  we  had  a  "pioneers'  dinner"  over  which  Hey- 
wood  Broun  presided.  The  Danish  Fru  Thit  Jensen,  blond,  vi- 
vacious, was  to  relate  the  troubles  she  had  had  in  arousing  interest  in 
her  own  country.  She  made  her  address  in  English  courageously 
enough,  but  it  was  evident  at  once  that  someone  slightly  familiar  with 
American  slang  had  helped  her  out.  She  was  describing  a  doctors' 
meeting  in  Denmark  and  the  first  words  we  heard  were,  "When  I  gave 
my  greetings  to  those  boneheads  as  I  am  to  you — "  We  all  burst  into 
laughter  because  they  seemed  to  apply  to  the  guests  present.  Her  face 
remained  sphinx-like  in  its  determined  immobility;  she  halted  for  us 
to  subside,  then  continued.  Almost  immediately  the  dignified  gathering 
went  off  again  into  a  fresh  peal.  You  no  sooner  recovered  from  one 
shrieking  convulsion  than  she  made  another  remark  equally  ludicrous. 
After  each  outbreak  she  paused  resignedly  before  going  on  with  her 
carefully  prepared  speech.  The  hilarity  finally  got  out  of  hand,  so 
whether  the  end  was  funny  or  not  nobody  knew  or  cared. 

At  every  meeting  Dr.  Ferdinand  Goldstein  of  Berlin,  who  was  hard 
of  hearing,  sat  in  the  front  row.  The  mention  of  any  phase  of  popula- 
tion, on  which  he  was  an  expert,  brought  him  promptly  to  his  feet. 
Standing  directly  in  front  of  the  speaker,  he  cupped  his  ear  in  order 
not  to  miss  a  single  word.  The  one  discordant  note  occurred  on  the 
last  day  when  the  committee  declined  to  embody  in  its  program  any 
endorsement  of  abortion.  He  not  only  left  the  Conference  but  went 
back  to  Germany  without  saying  good-by  to  anyone. 

The  Austrian  delegates  were  Johann  Ferch  and  his  wife,  Betty.  This 
Viennese  printer  had  become  interested  in  birth  control  through  setting 
up  material  on  his  linotype.  He  had  informed  himself  of  methods  and 
in  a  short  time  had  several  clinics  started  in  Vienna.  One  morn- 
ing when  I  found  them  at  breakfast  in  the  dining  room,  great  tears 


374  MARGARET    SANGER 

were  rolling  down  Mrs.  Ferch's  face.  I  asked  her  what  the  trouble  was 
and  she  said  she  was  weeping  because  the  pot  of  coffee  on  the  table,  a 
simple  bit  of  food,  cost  thirty-five  cents,  and  she  realized  what  this 
amount  of  money  would  buy  at  home ;  for  the  price  of  one  meal  in 
New  York  their  starving  relatives  could  live  for  a  whole  day  in  luxury. 
Neither  of  them  felt  entitled  to  indulge  in  such  extravagance. 

Dr.  Aletta  Jacobs  walked  along  with  me  after  one  of  the  sessions. 
She  said  the  fact  she  had  refused  to  see  me  in  191 5  had  been  on  her 
mind  ever  since,  and  she  desired  to  clear  up  the  matter  now ;  she  had 
always  been  against  lay  people  taking  part  in  the  movement,  and  for 
that  reason  had  opposed  the  Rutgers  method  of  training  practical 
nurses  and  allowing  them  to  go  out  in  the  field  after  only  two  months' 
instruction.  She  had  put  me  in  the  same  category  as  those  in  her  own 
country  who  had  wanted  to  establish  clinics  as  a  commercial  venture. 
That  afternoon  she  visited  our  clinic  and  went  over  methods  with  Dr. 
Cooper  and  Dr.  Stone.  Here,  she  said,  with  kindling  eyes,  was  the 
system  she  had  envisioned  in  the  Netherlands  but  had  never  been  able 
to  make  come  true. 

The  eugenists  were  given  their  opportunity  to  speak  at  the  Con- 
ference. Eugenics,  which  had  started  long  before  my  time,  had  once 
been  defined  as  including  free  love  and  prevention  of  conception. 
Moses  Harman  of  Chicago,  one  of  its  chief  early  adherents,  had  run  a 
magazine  and  gone  to  jail  for  it  under  the  Comstock  regime.  Recently 
it  had  cropped  up  again  in  the  form  of  selective  breeding,  and  biolo- 
gists and  geneticists  such  as  Clarence  C.  Little,  President  of  the  Uni- 
versity of  Maine,  and  C.  B.  Davenport,  Director  of  the  Cold  Spring 
Harbor  Station  for  Experimental  Evolution,  had  popularized  their 
findings  under  this  heading.  Protoplasm  was  the  substance  then  sup- 
posed to  carry  on  hereditary  traits — genes  and  chromosomes  were  a 
later  discovery.  Professor  Davenport  used  to  lift  his  eyes  reverently 
and,  with  his  hands  upraised  as  though  in  supplication,  quiver  emo- 
tionally as  he  breathed,  "Protoplasm.  We  want  more  protoplasm." 

I  accepted  one  branch  of  this  philosophy,  but  eugenics  without  birth 
control  seemed  to  me  a  house  built  upon  sands.  It  could  not  stand 
against  the  furious  winds  of  economic  pressure  which  had  buffeted 
into  partial  or  total  helplessness  a  tremendous  proportion  of  the  human 
race.  The  eugenists  wanted  to  shift  the  birth  control  emphasis  from 


NOW   IS   THE   TIME   FOR    CONVERSE  375 

less  children  for  the  poor  to  more  children  for  the  rich.  We  went  back 
of  that  and  sought  first  to  stop  the  multiplication  of  the  unfit.  This 
appeared  the  most  important  and  greatest  step  towards  race  better- 
ment. 

A  special^  round  table  for  the  eugenists  was  held  at  which  we  took 
the  opportunity  to  challenge  their  theories.  I  said,  "Dr.  Little,  let's 
begin  with  you.  How  many  children  have  you?" 

"Three." 

"How  many  more  are  you  going  to  have  ?" 

"None.  I  can't  afford  them." 

"Professor  East,  how  many  have  you,  and  how  many  more  are  you 
going  to  have  ?" 

And  sp  the  question  circled.  Not  one  planned  to  have  another  child, 
though  Dr.  Little  has  had  two  since  by  a  second  wife.  "There  you  are," 
I  said,  "a  super-intelligent  group,  the  very  type  for  whom  you  advocate 
more  children,  yet  you  yourselves  won't  practice  what  you  preach.  If 
I  were  to  put  this  same  question  to  a  group  of  poor  women  who  already 
have  families,  every  one  of  them  would  also  answer,  'No,  I  don't  want 
any  more.'  No  arguments  can  make  people  want  children  if  they  think 
they  have  enough." 

When  the  Conference  was  over,  a  final  meeting  was  held  at  my 
apartment  to  form  a  permanent  international  association  of  which  Dr. 
Little  was  made  president. 

Handling  everything  had  been  something  of  an  undertaking,  but 
after  all  the  delegates  had  been  sent  off  we  still  had  money  in  the  bank. 
My  faith  had  been  justified  that,  if  you  started  something  worth  while, 
means  for  its  realization  would  be  forthcoming. 


Chapter  Thirty-one 


GREAT  HEIGHTS  ARE  HAZARDOUS 


"Professor  East,  though  you  may  try, 
You  fail  to  rouse  my  fears, 
For  I  don't  dream  that  even  I 
Will  live  a  hundred  years; 
But  do  not  think  I  view  with  mirth 
Five  billion  folk  (assorted) 
Five  billion  tightly  packed  on  earth 
Who  cannot  be  supported." 

(South  African  Review) 


AT  the  conclusion  of  the  New  York  Conference  I  thought  that  I 
jf\.was  never  going  to  have  anything  to  do  with  organizing  another. 
But  hardly  more  than  a  few  months  had  gone  by  before  my  mind  was 
dwelling  on  one  to  be  centered  around  overpopulation  as  a  cause  of 
war.  From  the  statements  of  Keynes  and  the  specialists  of  the  League 
of  Nations,  and  from  the  status  of  the  countries  of  Europe,  it  was 
inferred  that  international  peace  could  in  no  way  be  made  secure  until 
measures  had  been  put  into  effect  to  deal  with  explosive  populations. 

Between  1800  and  1900  the  inhabitants  of  the  world  doubled  in  spite 
of  bloody  wars,  thus  proving  they  were  only  temporary  checks.  For 
every  hundred  thousand  babies  who  died  between  dawn  and  dawn, 
Professor  East  estimated  that  one  hundred  and  fifty  thousand  were 
born.  These  fifty  thousand  survivors  contributed  to  the  globe  in  twenty 
years  a  horde  almost  equal  to  India's  three  hundred  and  seventy-five 
million. 

In  the  United  States,  numerically  speaking,  overpopulation  was  not 
of  apparent  importance ;  we  still  had  unoccupied  lands.  But  evidence 
that  we  were  beginning  to  consider  the  quality  of  our  citizens  as  well 
as  the  quantity  was  shown  in  our  immigration  laws.  In  1907  we  had 

376 


GREAT  HEIGHTS  ARE  HAZARDOUS  377 

barred  aliens  with  mental,  physical,  communicable,  or  loathsome  dis- 
eases, and  also  illiterate  paupers,  prostitutes,  criminals,  and  the  feeble- 
minded. Had  these  precautions  been  taken  earlier  our  institutions 
would  not  now  be  crowded  with  moronic  mothers,  daughters,  and 
grand-daughters — three  generations  at  a  time,  all  of  whom  have  to  be 
supported  by  tax-payers  who  shut  their  eyes  to  this  condition,  ad- 
mittedly detrimental  to  the  blood  stream  of  the  race. 

Then  our  sudden  closing  of  the  doors  in  1924  by  placing  the  world 
on  a  quota,  threw  Europe's  surplus  population  back  on  herself.  Italy 
had  to  face  this  problem  as  Germany  had  had  to  do  in  19 14.  At  the 
Institute  of  Politics  in  Williamstown,  Massachusetts,  in  the  summer  of 
1925,  Count  Antonio  Cippico,  Fascist  Senator,  virtually  demanded 
that,  to  make  room  for  her  "explosive  expansion,"  Italy  be  allowed  to 
export  her  half-million  annual  increase  to  foreign  lands.  Professor 
East  answered  him,  asking  Italy  first  to  put  her  house  in  order,  and 
setting  forth  with  clarity  the  inexorable  results  of  "spawning  children 
on  the  world  with  haphazard  recklessness."  But  she  had  no  intention 
of  doing  so.  Shortly  afterwards  Mussolini  outlined  his  plan:  "If  Italy 
is  to  amount  to  anything  it  must  enter  into  the  second  half  of  this 
century  with  at  least  sixty  million." 

Japan  and  Germany  as  well  as  Italy  were  already  called  danger  spots 
in  1925.  Japan's  goal  was  a  hundred  million.  Goring  was  soon  to  say, 
"The  territory  in  which  the  Germans  live  is  too  small  for  our  sixty-six 
million  inhabitants  and  will  be  too  small  for  the  ninety  million  which 
we  want  to  become."  The  three  military  countries  were  pleading  with 
their  women  to  bear  more  children,  offering  as  inducements  medals, 
money,  lands.  They  claimed  the  right  of  expansion  because  they  were 
too  crowded  at  home,  and  were  at  the  same  time  increasing  their 
peoples  in  order  to  promote  successful  wars. 

Populations  can  fall  into  a  semi-starved  state  of  inertia,  such  as  that 
of  India  or  China,  unless  they  are  aggressive.  They  have  a  choice  of 
three  courses :  to  lower  the  standards  of  living  to  the  bare  subsistence 
level,  to  control  the  birth  rate,  or  to  reach  out  for  colonies  as  Great 
Britain  has  done. 

While  we  had  been  holding  our  conference  in  London  in  1922  I  had 
met  at  one  of  Major  Putnam's  luncheons  the  Very  Reverend  "gloomy" 
Dean  Inge,  except  that  he  was  not  gloomy  at  all ;  he  was  full  of  mis- 


378  MARGARET    SANGER 

chief.  In  his  late  fifties,  tall,  thin  as  an  exclamation  point,  quite  deaf,  he 
reminded  me  of  a  Dickens  character.  He  had  commented  in  his  usual 
pungent  style  on  the  real  meaning  of  the  right  to  expand  : 

It  is  a  pleasant  prospect  if  every  nation  with  a  high  birth  rate  has 
a  "right"  to  exterminate  its  neighbors.  The  supposed  duty  of  multi- 
plication, and  the  alleged  right  to  expand,  are  among  the  chief  causes 
of  modern  war;  and  I  repeat  that  if  they  justify  war,  it  must  be  a 
war  of  extermination,  since  mere  conquest  does  nothing  to  solve  the 
problem. 

I  was  still  of  the  opinion  in  1925  that  the  League  of  Nations  should 
include  birth  control  in  its  program  and  proclaim  that  increase  in 
numbers  was  not  to  be  regarded  as  a  justifiable  reason  for  national 
expansion,  but  that  each  nation  should  limit  its  inhabitants  to  its  re- 
sources as  a  fundamental  principle  of  international  peace. 

On  the  other  hand,  it  was  all  very  well  to  say,  "Cut  down  your  num- 
bers," but  how  could  this  be  done  if  scientific  and  medical  development 
lagged  so  far  behind  that  few  knew  how  to  do  it  ?  Building  up  huge 
populations  by  following  the  way  of  nature  was  fairly  simple,  but  it 
was  by  no  means  simple  to  reduce  them  again  voluntarily.  No  long- 
range  program  was  possible  until  economists,  sociologists,  and  biolo- 
gists alike  should  garner  and  contribute  facts  to  the  solution.  There- 
fore the  occasion  was  now  ripe  for  the  attention  of  the  scientific  world 
to  be  focused  on  the  population  question.  I  planned  to  bring  them 
together  at  Geneva,  the  logical  meeting  place. 

Dr.  Little,  who  had  accepted  the  presidency  for  the  next  interna- 
tional birth  control  conference,  had  gone  to  the  University  of  Michi- 
gan as  its  President.  He  had  no  time  for  organizing,  raising  money, 
getting  speakers;  if  this  lengthy  job  of  organizing  the  World  Popu- 
lation Conference  were  to  be  done  I  should  have  to  do  it. 

So  great  was  the  competition  between  the  League  of  Nations  and 
other  groups  desiring  to  hold  conventions  at  Geneva  during  its  sessions 
that  you  had  to  book  an  auditorium  and  rooms  for  delegates  practically 
twelve  months  ahead.  Consequently,  towards  the  end  of  1926  I  went 
to  Geneva  to  make  arrangements  for  an  expected  three  hundred  guests. 
I  had  previously  become  acquainted  with  several  Genevese.  William 
Rappard,  then  a  professor  at  the  university  there,  consented  to  go 


GREAT    HEIGHTS   ARE   HAZARDOUS  379 

on  our  committee  and  advise  me  on  social  details  with  which  only  a 
native  would  be  familiar. 

More  vital  to  me  was  the  Labor  Office  of  the  League,  where  it  was 
not  a  matter  of  politics  but  of  industrial  problems  thrashed  out  by  peo- 
ple chosen  for  their  special  knowledge.  Here  I  met  Albert  Thomas,  a 
strange-looking  person,  short,  stocky,  with  black  beard  sprouting  over 
his  face,  very  talkative,  amazing  in  his  energy,  traveling  over  Europe 
by  night,  arriving  in  Geneva  in  the  morning,  conducting  his  business 
affairs,  making  speeches.  But  with  all  this  activity  he  managed  to 
spare  hours  enough  to  help  me  immeasurably  when  I  consulted  him 
on  subjects,  persons,  locations,  and  dates. 

The  Salle  Centrale  was  engaged  for  three  days,  August  30th  to 
September  2nd  of  the  next  year,  1927.  Back  I  went  to  London  to  enlist 
an  English  committee.  Clinton  Chance  became  my  husband's  assistant 
in  supervising  finances,  and  also  provided  London  headquarters  in  his 
offices,  supplying  stenographers  and  secretaries.  Edith  How-Martyn 
joined  us  and  I  secured  the  invaluable  aid  of  Julian  Huxley,  brother 
of  Aldous,  a  brilliant,  young,  enthusiastic  scientist,  alive  and  having  a 
mind  that  not  only  took  things  in,  but  gave  them  out.  The  Conference 
owed  much  to  his  fair  and  just  opinions  and  the  fine  supporters  he 
rounded  up.  Together  we  went  over  names  and  names  and  names, 
trying  to  choose  a  chairman  of  sufficient  distinction  around  whom 
European  scientists  would  rally.  Professor  A.  M.  Carr-Saunders  at 
first  accepted,  but  a  month  and  a  half  later  informed  me  his  other  obli- 
gations were  so  heavy  he  would  have  to  limit  his  participation  to  mem- 
bership on  the  Council. 

After  weeks  of  uncertainty,  interviews,  and  rejections,  we  selected 
Sir  Bernard  Mallet,  K.C.B.,  once  of  the  Foreign  Office,  Treasury, 
Board  of  Inland  Revenue,  later  Registrar  General  of  Births,  Deaths, 
and  Marriages,  and  President  of  the  Royal  Statistical  Society.  Al- 
though very  English,  he  was  not  too  conservative.  He  knew  well  Sir 
Eric  Drummond,  then  head  of  the  League  of  Nations,  and  also  had 
many  friends  on  the  Continent,  particularly  in  Italy.  He  was  typical  of 
an  individual  who  had  climbed  far,  who  knew  where  he  was  going  and 
the  road  by  which  he  should  travel.  Bored  at  being  now  in  retirement, 
he  accepted  our  offer  willingly  because,  although  no  salary  was  at- 
tached, it  would  give  him  a  position  and  an  interest,  and  keep  him 


380  MARGARET   SANGER 

socially  in  touch  with  noteworthy  figures.  Lady  Mallet's  previous  ex- 
perience as  lady-in-waiting  to  Queen  Victoria  made  her  an  expert 
hostess,  and  this  too  we  needed. 

Once  I  had  to  make  an  expedition  all  the  way  to  Edinburgh  to  seek 
out  Dr.  F.  A.  E.  Crew,  a  shining  light  among  the  younger  biologists, 
who  was  making  hens  crow  and  roosters  lay  eggs.  He  readily  agreed 
to  come  to  the  Conference  and  during  the  two  days  I  visited  him 
helped  me  build  up  my  program. 

I  also  wanted  a  paper  read  by  Andre  Siegfried,  author  of  America 
Comes  of  Age,  written  after  journeying  some  six  weeks  through  the 
United  States.  When  he  invited  me  to  tea  at  his  home  in  Paris,  I  found 
him  in  appearance  more  like  a  mixture  of  American  and  English  than 
French.  But  you  could  feel  from  his  attitude  and  deduce  from  his 
conversation  that  he  really  envied,  despised,  hated  Americans ;  by  in- 
vading France  with  our  "wealth  and  vulgarity,"  we  had  utterly  spoiled 
it  for  his  compatriots.  Appreciating  good  food,  which  we  never  had  at 
home,  we  squandered  enormously,  four  or  five  times  what  they  did. 
The  same  was  true  of  wine ;  we  were  drinking  their  best,  paying  high 
for  it  without  being  able  to  tell  the  difference  when  we  were  given 
cheap  vintages.  Consequently,  the  Parisians  were  being  shut  out  of 
Paris  because  they  could  not  afford  the  prices. 

"I  don't  see  how  you  can  blame  the  Americans  for  coming  over  and 
paying  what  you  French  ask,"  I  replied.  "You  might  have  a  complaint 
perhaps  if  we  tried  to  undersell  you  or  refused  to  buy.  But  it  seems  to 
me  you  are  profiting  considerably  by  this  'outrageous  intrusion  of  the 
American  dollar.'  " 

Although  we  did  not  get  on  very  well  and  although  he  would  not 
read  a  paper,  he  consented  to  attend. 

Some  of  the  preliminaries  having  been  set,  my  husband  took  a  villa 
at  Cap  d'Ail  between  Nice  and  Monte  Carlo  and  near  enough  to 
Geneva,  Paris,  and  London  for  trips  whenever  necessary.  From  my 
room  the  sunrise  was  incredibly  vivid — reds  and  yellows  mixed  with 
the  glorious  blue  of  the  Mediterranean.  But  it  was  not  warm.  H.G., 
who  had  a  villa  at  Grasse,  said  the  Riviera  reputation  for  summer  heat 
in  wintertide  was  a  fraud.  We  used  to  drive  up  to  see  him ;  the  flowers 
for  the  perfume  manufactories  grew  thick  on  the  hillsides,  so  thick  that 
the  air  for  miles  around  was  fragrant.  Occasionally  we  picnicked  in 


GREAT  HEIGHTS  ARE  HAZARDOUS  381 

the  tiny  village  on  top  of  the  mountain  of  Ez,  a  favorite  haunt  of 
artists.  Once  the  old  castle  had  belonged  to  robber  barons,  who  could 
see  for  miles  the  approach  of  a  ship ;  now  the  elder  Mrs.  O.  P.  Belmont 
had  a  palatial  residence  there. 

The  Riviera  was  always  a  Mecca  for  English  people  wanting  to 
escape  their  own  cold  and  fog  and  damp,  and  our  eight  guest  rooms 
were  full  most  of  the  time.  It  was  quite  novel  for  me  to  manage  a  house- 
hold in  French.  We  had  the  traditional  bad  luck  of  Americans;  the 
maids  stole  from  the  guests  and  the  hot  water  boiler  only  held  ten 
gallons — not  a  person  could  have  a  good  bath  until  a  modern  one  was 
installed.  My  first  cook  was  an  expert  in  her  field,  but  I  soon  found  she 
was  running  over  in  her  bills,  even  allowing  for  the  customary  per- 
quisite of  a  sou  for  each  franc  she  spent  with  the  butcher  and  the  green- 
grocer. Eggs  and  butter  were  on  the  list  every  day,  but  never  how  many 
eggs  nor  how  much  butter.  I  laid  the  responsibility  on  my  own  bad 
French,  before  I  discovered  it  was  her  understanding  of  Americans. 
Then  and  there  I  told  her  she  had  to  leave  the  following  day  immedi- 
ately after  breakfast.  She  received  this  ultimatum  with  tears  and  wail- 
ing. Somewhat  uneasy  I  rose  early  at  seven  only  to  find  she  had  gone 
late  the  preceding  night,  taking  with  her  every  scrap  of  food  in  the 
pantry  and  storeroom  except  the  salt. 

On  one  of  my  frequent  flirtings  to  London  I  went  to  a  hairdressers' 
shop,  unfamiliar  to  me  but  carrying  the  insignia  of  reliability,  "By 
Appointment  to  Her  Majesty."  I  was  to  return  to  Cap  d'Ail  in  a  few 
days  and  wished  to  appear  with  a  wave  in  my  hair,  which  I  wore  Mid- 
Victorian,  very  sweet  and  simple.  After  washing  it,  the  coiffeur  put  an 
iron  on  a  little  gas  arrangement  in  the  window  near  by  and  left  the 
room  while  it  was  drying,  floating  out  in  the  wind. 

Meanwhile  I  meditated  on  the  subject  of  hair.  The  story  of  Samson 
seemed  to  have  been  more  than  an  allegorical  tale.  I  could  tell  from  the 
way  mine  acted  on  being  brushed  in  the  morning  how  I  myself  was 
going  to  be.  If  it  were  strong  and  electric,  then  I  was  full  of  vitality. 
When  slumped  over  my  forehead  so  that  it  had  to  be  tied  down,  then  I 
dragged  about  spiritlessly. 

It  was  also  interesting  to  analyze  why  a  woman  should  wear  her 
hair  in  a  certain  style.  I  knew  some  who,  at  the  age  of  sixty,  curled 
theirs  in  baby  ringlets ;  doubtless  something  within  them  wanted  never 


382  MARGARET    SANGER 

to  grow  up.  Women  who  had  gone  into  the  underground  movement  in 
Russia  took  the  shears  to  theirs  so  that  nothing  should  divert  the  at- 
tention to  feminine  appeal.  I  was  not  enough  of  a  Feminist  to  sacrifice 
mine,  but  I  had  once  come  to  the  conclusion  that  the  triumph  of  life 
would  be  to  push  it  straight  back  from  my  forehead  and  tie  it  in  a 
knot  behind,  because  that  was  how  people  thought  I  looked.  But  I  could 
not  do  it.  No  matter  what  was  said  about  your  feet  or  your  figure,  you 
could  at  least  show  your  hair — in  front  of  hats,  down  your  back,  every- 
where, and  so  I  had  clung  tenaciously  to  my  long  locks. 

At  this  point  in  my  musings  I  smelled  something  burning  and  turned 
around  to  find  half  my  hair  singed  off  to  my  ear.  I  gave  one  shriek,  and 
the  whole  staff  rushed  in.  But  it  was  too  late ;  it  all  had  to  be  cut  short 
and  I  actually  wept. 

As  soon  as  I  reached  Paris  I  had  what  was  left  done  up  like  a 
switch  so  that  I  could  put  it  on  if  I  felt  too  badly.  I  kept  it  in  a  box,  all 
ready  in  case  my  husband  did  not  want  me  without  my  hair.  Eventually 
I  had  to  face  his  disapproval.  I  appeared  for  dinner.  Nothing  was  said. 
Although  internally  amused  the  guests  maintained  grave  faces,  wait- 
ing for  him  to  notice  it ;  not  until  next  morning  did  he  do  so.  My  own 
attitude  had  changed  overnight;  never  did  I  want  to  return  to  long 
hair. 

During  early  spring,  just  when  it  was  beginning  to  be  most  beauti- 
ful, I  could  spend  little  time  at  Cap  d'Ail.  Permanent  headquarters 
were  established  in  April  at  Geneva — four  airy,  spacious  rooms  up  two 
flights.  I  had  expected  Edith  How-Martyn  to  be  with  me,  but  she  came 
down  with  scarlet  fever  in  London.  It  was  a  complication  to  do  without 
her  until  Mrs.  Marjorie  Martin,  who  had  organized  a  pool  of  stenog- 
raphers, secretaries,  and  typists  at  the  Labor  Bureau,  furnished  us 
with  a  most  competent  and  experienced  office  staff  of  seventeen. 

At  four-thirty  our  large  reception  room  was  transformed  into  a 
living  room  where  all  the  employees  and  volunteers  gathered.  Each  in 
turn  provided  cakes,  brewed  the  tea,  and  washed  up  afterwards.  One 
evening  at  a  quarter  to  seven  some  good  American  stopped  in  and,  see- 
ing everybody  smiling  and  cheerful  though  still  at  work,  asked,  "Will 
you  tell  me  what  magic  you  women  use  to  create  this  atmosphere? 
You've  been  at  it  since  seven  this  morning." 

The  answer  was — tea  at  four-thirty. 


GREAT  HEIGHTS  ARE  HAZARDOUS  383 

I  liked  being  in  Geneva,  neat  and  clean  and  filled  with  watch  shops. 
I  did  not  even  mind  the  great  numbers  of  people  in  solemn,  black 
clothes.  If  anyone  died  in  this  Calvinist  city,  the  family  wore  full 
mourning  for  one  year,  and  half  for  the  following — in  large  families 
the  process  became  almost  perpetual. 

I  was  not  stimulated  by  the  League  sittings.  There  was  much  read- 
ing of  papers  and  a  lot  of  noise,  but  no  breathless  excitement  during  the 
debates.  Instead,  the  members  talked  in  small  groups,  looking  very 
bored.  The  big  things,  just  as  in  Washington,  were  done  behind  the 
scenes,  at  dinner  tables,  and  in  private  conferences.  The  general  meet- 
ings were  merely  sounding  boards  for  public  opinion.  One  of  the  most 
interesting  features  was  the  way  a  delegate  could  make  a  speech  in 
his  own  language  and  others  at  their  desks  could  plug  in  earphones  and 
hear  it  simultaneously  in  theirs,  coming  from  booths  off  stage. 

Delegates  to  our  Conference  were  all  asking  whether  their  papers 
were  to  be  given  in  their  respective  tongues.  I  came  to  one  swift  deci- 
sion— to  adopt  the  bilingual  League  precedent  of  French  and  English. 
It  was  simple  enough  to  secure  interpreters  who  were  familiar  with 
political  terminology,  because  they  swarmed  at  Geneva,  but  to  find 
those  who  understood  scientific  terms  in  German,  Italian,  Hungarian, 
Scandinavian,  Portuguese,  Greek,  Spanish,  Japanese,  an